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MARCH 1995 


MARCH 1995 

First Word 

By Philip K.Dick 




Electronic Universe 

By Gregg Keizer 


Virtual Realities 

By Tom Dworetzky 



By Linda Marsa 



By Chris Porter 

A guide to 

internet guidebooks 



By Steve Nadis 

An experiment 

in global democracy 



By Steve Nadis 



By Robert Mark 


Artificial Intelligence 

By Steve Nadis 



By Mark Fischetti 



By George Nobbe 









Response to Omni's Project Open Book has been so phe- 
nomenal, we've expanded our research into a new 
investigative section. Cover art by Chris Moore/Bernstein & 
Andriuili, Inc. (Additional credits, page 86.) 

Carnival Diablo 


Seethe bug-eating 

fire leap from your mouth! 

Experience the 

future of sideshow. 


Omni's Project 

Open Book 

The first installment 

of Omni's 

provocative new section 

dedicated to 

the search and discovery 

of UFOs. 


Last Chance 

For First Peoples 

By Stephen Mills 

A race against time 

to safeguard 

and preserve indigenous 

peoples, their 

environments, and 

their genes. 




By Simon Ings 



Paul Ewald 

By Judith Hooper 

Evolution of disease 





By Scot Morris 

Canadian GST Registration #R 1 266Q7S89 



"If you find this world bad, you should see some of the others" 

By Philip K. Dick 

Known best for 
his fiction, Philip 
K. Dick (1928- 
1982) was also a 
gifted intel- 
lectual capable 
of sifting 
through the most 
complex ot 
Ideas with 
both rigor anil joy. 

^| |P^ ay I tell you how 
I I much I appreciate 
■ %J I your asking me to 
share some of my ideas with 
you. A novelist carries with him 
constantly what most women 
carry in large purses: much that 
is useless, a few absolutely es- 
sential items, and then, for good 
measure, a great number of 
things that fall in be- 
tween. But the novel- 
ist does not 
transport them phys- 
ically because his 
trove of possessions 
is mental. Now and 
then he adds a new 
and entirely useless 
idea; now and then 
he reluctantly cleans 
out the trash — the 
obviously worthless 
ideas — and with a 
few sentimental tears sheds them. 
Once in a great while, however, 
he happens by chance onto a 
thoroughly stunning idea new to 
him that he hopes will turn out to 
be new to everyone else. It is this 
final category that dignifies his 
existence. But such truly price- 
less ideas . . . perhaps during 
his entire lifetime he may, at best, 
acquire only a meager few. But 
that is enough; he has, through 
them, justified his existence to 
himself and to his God. 

An odd aspect of these rare, 
extraordinary ideas that puzzles 
me is their mystifying cloak of — 
shall I say — the obvious. By that I 
mean, once the idea has 
emerged or appeared or been 
born— however it is that new 
ideas pass over into being — the 
novelist says to himself, "But of 
course. Why didn't I realize that 
years ago?" But note the word 
"realize." It is the key word. He 
has come across something new 
that at the same time was there, 
somewhere, all the time. In truth, 
it simply surfaced. It always was. 

He did not invent it or even find 
it; In a very real sense, it found 
him. And— and this is a little 
frightening to contemplate — he 
has not invented it, but on the 
contrary it invented him. ft is as if 
the idea created him for its pur- 
poses. I think this is why we dis- 
cover a startling phenomenon of 
great renown: that quite often in 
history a great new 
idea strikes a num- 
ber of researchers or 
thinkers at exactly the 
same time, all of them 
oblivious to their com- 
peers. "Its time had 
come," we say about 
the idea, and so dis- 
miss, as if we had 
explained it, some- 
thing I consider quite 
important: our recog- 
nition that in a cer- 
tain literal sense ideas are alive. 

What does this mean, to say 
that'an idea or a thought is liter- 
ally alive? And that it seizes on 
men here and there and makes 
use of them to actualize iiself into 
the stream of human history? 
Perhaps the pre-Socratic phil- 
osophers were correct; the cos- 
mos is one vast entity that thinks. 
It may in fact do nothing but 
think. In that case either what we 
call the universe is merely a form 
of disguise that it takes, or it 
somehow is the universe — some 
variation on this pantheistic view, 
my favorite being that it cun- 
ningly mimics the world that we 
experience daily, and we remain 
none the wiser. This is the view of 
the oldest religion of India, and 
to some extent it was the view of 
Spinoza and Alfred North White- 
head, the concept of an imma- 
nent God, God wiihin the uni- 
verse, not transcendent above it 
and therefore not part of it. The 
Sufi saying [by Rumi] 'The work- 
man is invisible within the work- 
shop" applies here, with workshop 

as universe and workman as 
God. But this still expresses the 
theistic notion that the universe is 
something that God created; 
whereas I am saying, perhaps 
God created nothing but merely 
is. And we spend our lives within 
him or her or it, wondering con- 
stantly where he or she or it can 
bB found. 

I enjoyed thinking along these 
lines for several years. God is as 
near at hand as the trash in the 
gutter — God is the trash in the 
gutter, to speak more precisely. 
But then one day a wicked 
thought entered my mind — 
wicked because it undermined 
my marvelous pantheistic monism 
of which I was so proud. What 
if — and here you will see how at 
least this particular SF writer 
gets his plots — what if there ex- 
ists a plurality of universes 
arranged along a sort of lateral 
axis, which is to say at right an- 
gles to the fiow of linear time? I 
must admit that upon thinking 
this I found I had conjured up a 
terrific absurdify: ten thousand 
bodies of God arranged like so 
many suits hanging in some 
enormous closet, with God either 
wearing them all at once or 
going selectively back and forth 
among them, Saying to himself, 
"i think today I'll wear the one in 
which Germany and Japan won 
World War II" and then adding, 
half to himself, "And tomorrow I'll 
wear that nice one in which 
Napoleon defeated the British; 
that's one of my best."Dd 

Supplementing serious contem- 
plation with charm and humor, 
this excerpt begins a delightful 
exegesis of time, space, God, re- 
ality, and fiction from The Shifting 
Realities of Philip K, Dick: Se- 
lected Literary and Philosophical 
Writings, edited and with an in- 
troduction by Lawrence Sutin 
(Pantheon Books). 


Presidents COO 


1 connnnuajicATioruB 


Living in lava tubes, saving the American inventor, -and 

driving the aliens away with immaturity 

Omni Fiction Is to Die For 

I had no idea what treasure awaited 
me in your fiction story, "Dying," by 
Michael Marshall Smith. I'm an avid SF 
fan and read almost nothing else. This 
story was absolutely outstanding. I 
have never read a story or a novel that 
dealt with the fate of animals as the 
centra' theme in such a powerful way. 
When I finished the story, the only thing 

very good writer. Keep up the good work. 

Nimra Hussain 

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia 

Inventing a Better America 
With reference to Representative Dana 
Rohrabacher's article, "Inventing Amer- 
ica," the Clinton administration's cava- 
lier indifference to American entrepre- 
furship and ingenuity is intolerable. 

could think of was: Wow. This was As we enter the" twenty-first century 
one of the best stories you've ever and an increasingly competitive global 
published. Thank you for a first-quality economy, are we also going to weaken 

magazine and the opportunity to read 
such exciting and informative fiction. 

Patricia A. Battson 

The A-OK for AOL 

I just wanted to tell you that your Amer- 
ica Online magazine is the best I've 
found. It's frequently updated, has 
many different types of services and 
resources, good graphics, picture and 
sound files, and interactivity, too. Thank 
you for a state-of-the-art presentation. 

Jay Korinek 
Dearborn, Ml 

aoi: Korinek 

History (Sort of) Repeats Itself 
I very much enjoyed the article about 
lava tubes on the moon 

our environmental laws and OSHA reg- 
ulations as well? Other countries 
should be meeting our high standards, 
we shouldn't be sinking to theirs. How 
can I and other American inventors 
help Rohrabacher fight to protect U.S. 
patent laws and regulations, and in 
turn save the American spirit of inge- 
nuity and tradition of success? 

John J. Phelan 
inwood, NY 

No Wonder ET Went Home 

I agree with the Roswell Declaration 
and the idea of the government's 
opening its files on the Roswell inci- 
dent. 1 can also see why the govern- 
ment would initiate a cover-up if the 
incident were a military project gone 
wrong. If UFOs were in the southwest- 

ims a very pracl sal and logical pro- em desert of the United States in July 

gression for humanity to assumi 
Thousands of years ago our ancestors 
first iived in caves before moving out 
into the vast new world that awaited 
them. Isn't it ironic that in the future, in 
ail probability, we may do exactly the 
same. Our very survival on a bold, new 
world, and our first steps into the new 
unknown, may very well depend upon 
it. Godspeed to the stars. 

James I. Kelly 
Stone Mountain, GA 

More Stars Please 

I'd just like to say your magazine is ex- 
cellent. The "X-Files" article in the De- 
cember issue was interesting, but I 
was disappointed there were no inter- 
views with Duchovny and Anderson. The 
series on UFOs are well researched 
and interesting. The cosmic Mars con- 
spiracy and Hoagland articles were 
also eye-openers; Steve Nadis Is a 

1947, why would advanced beings 
allow anything to be left behind? Surely 
our military and technology of 1947 
would have been no match for beings 
able to bridge the distances of space. 
Sadly though, if there were extraterres- 
trials here in 1947, I would not fault 
them for staying away if their first con- 
tact had been hidden; a testament to 
our immature species. 

Juris Breikss 
Highlands Ranch, CODQ 

Got something to say but no lime to 
write? Call (900) 285-5483. Your com- 
ments will be recorded and may appear 
in an upcoming issue of Omni. The cost 
for the call is 95 cents per minute. You 
must be age 1 8 or older. Touch-tone 
phones only. Sponsored by Pure Enter- 
tainment, 505 South Beverly Drive, 
Suite 977, Beverly Hills, CA 9021 2. 



'It's an imaginative, 
engrossing and vis- 
ually mesmerizing 

Computer Gaming World— December 1994 

"Magic Carpet's graphics 
probably represent the PCs 
finest hour. The gameplay 
in Magic Carpet is bloody 

Edge Rating: 9 out of 10. 
EDGE Magazine— December 1994 

"Magic Carpet is a ground- 
breaking title that combines 
the best features of a flight 
sim with the intellectual 
backbone of an RPG." 

Next Generation Magazine 

Shred the skies on the world's fastest, 
most-heavily armed flying carpet. Get 
ready for non-stop blasting action. Feel 
the groundrush created by revolutionary 
fractal graphics in the fastest arcade 
flight experience ever. See for yourself 
why critics AND gamers are raving about 
Magic Carpet. Visit your local retailer 
or call 1-800-245-4525. 


All-in-one packages make i 

By Gregg Keizer 

easier to hit the Internet 

Whether you 
have a PG, Mac, 
or even an 
Amiga, software 
Is available 
that makes con- 
necting to 
Ihe Internet easy. 
Those running 
Windows PCs will 
find the 
most choices. 

I must have touched a raw 
nerve in the collective mouth 
of Omni readers last fall when 
I devoted two consecutive "Elec- 
tronic Universe" columns to the 
Internet and what fun it is to go 
surfin' for both serious science 
stuff and the kind of paranormal 
chat that would make the X-Files 
proud. I got a /of of mail. 

If I'm reading you right, you're 
convinced the Internet is cool. 
You're probably even willing to 
spend the time and money to get 
connected. But many of you are 
asking the same question: "Just 
how do I get on the Internet?" 

You need a computer, a mo- 
dem, and a phone line, hardware 
you likely have already. Parts of 
the Internet are available via the 
commercial online services if 
that's all you have access to. 
America Online and CompuServe 
both let you send/receive Inter- 
net E-mail and scour Usenet 
newsgroups (see the November 
1994 "Electronic Universe" for 
some neat newsgroups to delve 
into). Delphi offers more, but it 
relies on a text-based interface 
that's harder to use and that 
doesn't show graphics in World 
Wide Web documents. 

Rather than settle for what the 
online services give you now 
(they all promise expanded Inter- 

net access in 1995), you're better 
off making a personal connec- 
tion. Three different paths — each 
with its own potholes and smooth 
spots — can take you there. 

The first is The Pipeline (call 
212-267-3636 or send E-mail to, the closest 
thing going to an instant-access 
Internet service. This New York 
City-based provider has created 
its own set of Internet software 
tools which it hands out free to 
anyone who signs up for an ac- 
count. The software comes in 
versions for either Windows or 
the Mac and is icon-based. Click 
on the "Get Files" icon, for in- 
stance, and you can download 
via ftp (file transfer protocol); 
"News" takes you to a decent 
newsgroup reader where you 
can subscribe to any group with 
a click. The Pipeline's software is 
great, but connecting to the ser- 
vice could be a problem for you. 
Unless you live in the New York 
area, where you can dial a local 
number, you have to pay an ad- 
ditional $2.50 per hour ($5 per 
hour during the day) for access 
toSprintNet. On top of. the $15 to 
$35 per month charges that The 
Pipeline itself levies, that can 

quickly add up to a big bill. 

If you're after less expensive 
Internet access, you'll want to 
check out two kits which work 
with virtually any provider. Spry's 
Internet in a Box (call 800-557- 
9614 or send E-mail to ibox- is a $149 
Windows all-in-one kit that not 
only includes nearly all the nec- 
essary software, but uses a sim- 
plified setup that holds your 
hand all the way. It includes a 
default Internet provider for a no- 
sweat connection, but you 
should find a local provider that's 
less expensive. Even though 
setup is a bit tougher that way, it 
shouldn't take more than an hour 
or so to complete. 

Frontier's $149 SuperHighway 
Access (call 414-241-4555 or 
send E-mail to: superhighway- 
@f also works 
with Windows PCs. If you have 
an account with one of the more 
than 100 providers supported by 
its installation scripts (likely, as 
even the small provider I use was 
among the listed), you just need 
to enter three pieces of informa- 
tion. Everything else is done for 
you. The Superhighway software 
is even snappier than Internet in 
a Box, You get ail the programs 
you need for E-mail, newsgroup 
reading, Web browsing, Gopher 
searching, and file downloading. 
More impressive, though, is 
something called Win Tapestry, 
which combines the Web and 
Gopher clients under a single in- 
terface. Here you can group In- 
ternet resources by subject and 
stick them in file folders. It's the 
best tool I've seen to put some 
organization on the Internet. 

Any of these three routes to 
the Internet will have you dialing 
up in less time than it takes to 
read an issue of Omni. When you 
get there, drop me a line at and let me 
know how it went.DQ 


Cleaning out cyberclosets is a thankless job 

By Tom Dworetzky 

The reveling 
cyberforms had 
when she'd ex- 
plained she 
had work, nol 
just some 
need io cfiat, or 
Vsex, lor 
God's sake. 

I was at Land Oh's, the sleepy 
oceantront cafe and sushi bar 
south of the sewage process- 
ing plant, when in walks Flash, 
the system operator. The sysop 
slumps down, calls Oh for a 
double latte, bottled water, and 
tuna sashimi, pops a vita-celera- 
tor, and sighs deeply. 

"Want to talk about it?" I ask. 
"I'm a good ear" 

"I know you make scratch 
from selling tales out of school. 
Just change my name," she 
says, "and buy me lunch." 

Flash hit this .com two days 
ago and clicked forum to forum 
looking for someone to let her 
drop code for the night and 
houseclean. But the forums in 
the brightly lit, high-priority part 
of town were flaming, and one 
after another they told her, "Sorry, 
we're full. Try next door." In the 
meantime her list of bug fixes 
was going out of RAM — the to-do 
list from hell. 

Got to find a place to partake 
and do some work, or I'm gonna 
blow my partition, overrun my 
array boundaries, and crash, she'd 
thought. And a sysop who crashed 
while out on the net was gone 
forever; just so much shattered 
code splattered on a piece of 
bad memory waiting for the gar- 
bage collector to pick up, read- 
dress, and recycle as available. 

She'd worked the town fo- 
rums and there was nothing for 
her there. The reveling cyber- 
forms had laughed when she'd 
explained she had work, not just 
some need to chat, or Vsex, for 
God's sake. No, they didnt give 
a damn. Finally she wandered 
the Vworld map out of the town. 
There was one last lone light 
halfway up the mountain above 
the valley. Maybe someone there 
had a few cycles to spare, at 
least room at the forum for an- 
other log on. 

The two old cyberforms who 

answered the door looked at her 
and said nothing to each other. 
They had met in a virtual forum 
at the end of the infoexp res sway 
almost 20 years ago. They had 
dreams of cyberglory. At first 
many joined the forum. They 
came to lead the talks and gath- 
ered volumes of that al- 
most overwhelmed them. They 
would go for runs together for 24 
and 36 hours, talking on the 
forum, speaking with each par- 
ticipant. But over time these in- 
teractions had faded, until finally 
they had only each other to talk 
to. The net had passed them by. 
They'd lost the membership in 
their forum. Mail stopped arriv- 
ing. In the end they even gave 
up maintaining their interface. 

Today no one talks, but ap- 
pears in telepathic-holographic 
form projected directly into the 
minds of others on the forum. But 
the two old cyberforms lacked 
the baud and software to keep 
up with this. And so others 
drifted away from them. 

Now into their intertwined nir- 
vana came this dark shimmering 
form with a voice made of gravel 
and bits. Low and mechanical, 
unfailingly polite,. Flash identified 
herself as the sysop and in- 

quired if there was any space on 
the forum. Offering their meager 
software and the few priority 
credits they'd saved, they 
helped her jack onto the net at 
full power. 

"Too many' people want too 
much of my time," Flash said. 
"I'm flamed, totally. People are 
cyberpigs, leaving old backups 
and threads no one cares about. 
We're always compressed. 
That's why I'm here. If we don't 
make space in this sector ASAP, 
the whole thing is going down. 
Let's see what we've got 
then . . ." And with this, Flash 
brought up the usage map of 
the valley. Forums all over town 
were churning with interaction. 
Only the little forum in which 
Flash now rested was dim and 
low. She started closing down fo- 
rums, turning swatches of the 
virtual valley and its inhabitants 
into available memory. "It's been 
just the two of you in this forum 
for how long now? Ten, maybe 
twenty flops? That's a long time 
to let you have this space." 

"Must we leave each other?" 
asked the forms. 

"You two cut me a break," 
said Flash, initiating logoff. "If 
you ever dare to look each other 
up, here're the addresses of your 
physical realities." 

They hadn't moved, not look- 
ing at each other, by the time the 
sysop finished logoff. 

"Not exactly street legal, what 
you did out there," I said to her. 

"Make room; no questions," 
she replied. "Still, I can't say 
whether they were who they 
seemed to each other or not. 
Everyone's whatever they want 
on the net." 

Shifting in my chair, I spotted 
Oh coming out the door, heading 
our way. "Some favor," I think. But 
I didn't tell Flash; she was dig- 
ging into her sashimi, and she 
was pooped. DO 



Virtual laboratories encourage collaboration and exchange 

By Linda Marsa 

Will BioMOO, the 
cyberlab set 
up by Israel's 
Institute, change 
the nature 
of research In 
the twenty- 
first century? 

I A Itisn the BioMOO bi- 
I I ology center opened 
%J W in Israel's Weizmann 
Institute of Science, it boasted 
state-of-the-art f aci lities — spark- 
ling new labs, spacious offices 
and meeting rooms — and was 
set in an idyllic wood where col- 
leagues could commune with na- 
ture and exchange ideas in 
private. Yet the center cost noth- 
ing to construct, and almost all 
the scientists working there have 
never set foot in Israel. 

This may sound like a perpet- 
ually cash-starved administra- 
tor's fantasy — acquiring a new 
lab without dispensing vast sums 
on bricks and mortar or dealing 
with the egos of science super- 
stars. But it's not. That's because 
BioMOO doesn't exist — not in the 
"real" world, anyway. It's actually 
a software program running on a 
Weizmann Institute computer. 
The BioMOO is the first broad- 
based attempt to create a "vir- 

tual" scientific laboratory on the 
Internet by harnessing the inter- 
active capabilities of computer 
games software. 

The MOO (for Multiuser di- 
mension, Object Oriented) soft- 
ware enables researchers sepa- 
rated by vast distances to congre- 
gate in cyberspace and actually 
work together in real time. Since 
its inception in November 1993, 
the BioMOO has become a high- 
tech hangout for more than 750 
biologists from three continents 
and dozens of disciplines who 
log onto the program to "meet" 
with colleagues, exchange ideas, 
jointly write papers, and explore 
the potential of the virtual world 
of computer networks. 

A recent National Academy of 
Sciences report says that virtual 
laboratories like the BioMOO will 
be among the key technologies 
that propel scientific discovery 
into the twenty-first century. And 
computer wizard Pavel Curtis, 
who helped devise this technol- 
ogy at Xerox's Palo'Alto Re- 
search Center (PARC), predicts 
that virtual laboratories "will per- 
manently alter the way research 
is conducted." In addition to Bio- 
MOO, a virtual astronomy center, 
Astro VR, is already online, and 
plans to develop MOOs for ecol- 
ogists, zoologists, aerospace 
engineers, and neurosurgeons, 
and a fully accredited online vir- 
tual university, the Globewide Net- 
work Academy, are in the works. 

Gustavo Glusman, co-founder 
of the BioMOO and a graduate 
student at the Weizmann Insti- 
tute, in true scientific fashion, 
stumbled upon a MOO one day 
while surfing the Internet and re- 
alized that the technology could 
be adapted for use in scientific 
collaborations. In spite of public 
perception to the contrary, scien- 
tists are remarkably social crea : 
tures who spend much of their 
time bouncing ideas off col- 

leagues, gabbing over the phone, 
or going to meetings where they 
can blab even more, all in hopes 
of sparking an insight that will 
move their work forward, The 
connections made possible by 
the MOOs add another dimen- 
sion to this communication. "Log- 
ging on is more convenient than 
traveling to a conference," says 
Glusman, "and it's more versatile 
than the telephone,". 

The .next step came from half 
a world away. David Van Buren, 
an astrophysicist at Caltech in 
Pasadena, California, designed 
the Astro VR, which can beam 
audio and video as well as text. 
This MOO-based virtual environ- 
ment is frequented by a select 
cadre of a few dozen senior as- 
tronomers at key research cen- 
ters in the United States and Eur- 
ope. One "room," for example, 
contains graphics of the Infrared 
Astronomy Satellite's survey of 
the heavens while another fea- 
tures the supernova recently dis- 
covered by Van Buren's group. 
"The capacity to transmit images 
and view the data simultaneously 
gives us a tool to do real science 
online," says Dr, Van Buren. "Of 
course, there is no substitute for 
actually being with somebody — 
but this is the next best thing." 

Even so, Pavel Curtis and 
other PARC researchers are busy 
working on the next generation 
of MOO— Jupiter. This new pro- 
gram could raise the level of glo- 
bal interaction several notches 
and truly put the world at users' 
fingertips by transmitting video 
and audio recordings live. "It's 
like going to a conference and 
having dinner afterward with the 
five or six scientists in the world 
who do exactly the same thing you 
do," says Dr. Curtis. "This will be a 
way to allow that dialogue around 
the dinner table to continue." 

Now that's really food for 



A common-sense guide to guidebooks 

By Chris Porter 


In order to surf 
cyberspace, one 
must first 
have a board, or 
in this case, 
a booh. Internet 
manuals can be 
valuable re- 
sources if you lake 
the time and 
choose your man- 
uals wisely. 

^^ M| ost of the conven- 
I I tiona! wisdom about 
I %J I the Internet insists 
that this computer network, 
which connects so many individ- 
uals and businesses into an on- 
line community, grows at the rate 
of 10 percent per month. Conse- 
quently, it seems that the number 
of books about the Internet has 
grown just as fast, with everyone 
wanting to capitalize on the 
spreading pool of new users. 
The field is ripe for these books 
because the Internet comes with 
no user's manuals, and there are 
many options available. Knowing 
what one needs from an Internet 
book can be the difference be- 
tween an unwise investment and 

an integral resource. 

One special feature of the In- 
ternet is that most of the docu- 
ments that the user might need 
can be found in various texts on- 
line. Furthermore, within most in- 
dividual functions, a screen- 
based help section is available to 
guide the user. Theoretically, an 
adept user could learn all he or 
she would ever need to know from 
the resources on the Internet. 

But most of us will not take 
the time to retrieve and print out 
all of these helpful documents, 
so we buy books. Most of the 
books about the Internet can be 
placed into one of three rather 
broad categories: introductory 
guides, targeted guides, and 
comprehensive manuals, 

The introductory volumes are 
designed to whet the user's ap- 
petite for the Internet and to pro- 
vide the basic information the 
beginner needs to log on. A good 
one provides a strong foundation 
upon which a user might begin 
his or her search for the available 
resources. Tracy LaQuey's The 
internet Companion: A Begin- 
ner's Guide to Global Network- 
ing, Second Edition (Addison- 
Wesley Publishing, 1994, $12.95) 
is a good place to start. It as- 
sumes no knowledge of how the 
Internet works, and it teaches not 
only how to find a service 
provider and the etiquette of the 
Internet, but also starts the user 
on the regular features like how 
to download files and how to use 
E-mail. A quality introductory 
book can be worth its weight in 
floppy disks, although soon it will 
begin to collect dust as the user 
gets more experienced. 

For more specialized instruc- 
tions and extended information 
on particular aspects of the In- 
ternet such as optimum utility of 
mail programs, accessing exten- 
sive resource lists, or even how 
to join the role-playing games that 
have proven so popular, see 
both the Whole Earth Online Al- 
manac (Don Rittner, 1993, $32.95) 
and the New Riders' Official In- 
ternet Yellow Pages (New Riders 
Publishing, 1994, $29.95). Both 
provide extensive, categorized 
listings of information sources such 
as newsgroups, file directories, 
and mailing lists the user can ac- 
cess. New groups are constantly 
added and old features give way 

to new versions, so the specific 
type is less a permanent refer- 
ence than a snapshot examina- 
tion of one area. 

The third type of book is the 
comprehensive, all-in-one re- 
source that generally includes 
sections which answer the needs 
of the first two categories. These 
are the books which deserve a 
permanent place on the book- 
shelf, because they take into ac- 
count the advancement of a user. 
The Internet Unleashed (Sams 
Publishing, 1994, S44.95) is the 
best example of this type that 
I've found. There are exhaustive 
chapters on the history of the In- 
ternet and conducting business 
online, and it even covers ad- 
vanced projects like creating 
your own mailing list. Not only 
does it explain the strengths and 
weaknesses of different types of 
mail readers, but it also suggests 
publicly accessible files that can 
help readers make the most of 
their systems. Therein is the value 
of this type of book: It enables the 
reader to take more personal con- 
trol of the network environment. 

All three types of books can 
reward the Internet user. The in- 
troductory book gives the reader 
the confidence to log on and to 
begin learning about what he or 
she will want to do on the Internet. 
Once the user is comfortable with 
the functions and has determined 
what he or she wants to do on 
the network, then the more spe- 
cific type of book, covering the 
areas which interest the user, be- 
comes a welcome addition. Fi- 
nally, the comprehensive book as 
an encyclopedic resource can 
help the user well into the future. 

So before buying an Internet 
book, determine your needs, as- 
sess your skills, and find the book 
that best fits those areas. That will 
help ensure that the resources 
are valuable not just immediately, 
but in the long run as well.DQ 



Foundation and Robot sene 


! HarperPrism 



Playing the World Game can lead to real solutions 

By Steve Nadis 

The World 
Game software 
boasls a 
huge collection 
of crucial 
worldwide sta- 
tistics and 
projections, in- 
cluding those 
for the spread of 
HIV infections. 

Imagine the leaders of the 
world convening to strategize 
about peace instead of war, 
uniting to battle the common en- 
emies of disease, hunger, pollu- 
tion, and illiteracy. R. Buck- 
minster Fuller — the architect, 
philosopher, and visionary — con- 
ceived of such a "world peace 
game" in the 1960s, hoping to 
conduct the first sessions at the 
1967 World's Fair in Montreal. 
Fuller proposed that the U.S. 
Pavilion he designed — a giant 
geodesic dome — be devoted to 
the solution of global problems 
and hold a vast computer, a so- 
called "world brain," crammed 
with all the necessary data. 

The U.S. Information Agency 
rejected the idea, considering it 
inappropriate for a world's fair. 
Fuller persisted, nevertheless, 
hosting the first "World Game" 
workshop in 1969, and the World 
Game Institute (WGI), founded in 
1972, has brought Fuller's dream 
to fruition since his death in 
1983. WGI has conducted about 
1,000 workshops or simulations 
in 48 states and 21 countries. 
Some 90,000 people have par- 
ticipated, including members of 
Congress and the United Nations. 

In the World Game, players 
representing difterent regions 
and international agencies barter 
and negotiate in the hope of re- 
solving conflicts and meeting the 
needs of their constituents. The 
simulations are designed to give 
players an appreciation of the 
complexities facing world lead- 
ers, while demonstrating the 
need for cooperation among na- 
tions. "In some ways, it's like a 
flight simulator where you can 
learn how to fly without killing all 
the passengers each time you 
make a mistake," explains WGI 
executive director Medard Gabel. 

The "world brain" exists today 
within a set of software disks. 
WGI offers two main software 

packages, Global Data Manager 
and Global Recall, plus a num- 
ber of additional data disks. Glo- 
bal Data Manager, according to 
Gabel, is the "largest database 
of socioeconomic and environ- 
mental indicators for the world," 
containing more than 15,000 sta- 
tistics per country on such topics 
as population, natural resources, 
and energy reserves. 

Global Recall is more user- 
friendly, presenting data in a 
highly accessible format. It con- 
tains more than 300 maps of 
continents, regions, and coun- 
tries and has .more than 800 sta- 
tistical indicators for every 
country. There are instructional 
essays on a variety of topics, ac- 
companied by ever-changing 
statistics called "worldom- 
eters" — the number of people 
who were born or died today, the 

amount of food and energy con- 
sumed, and so forth. 

The Solutions Lab is, per- 
haps, the most innovative part of 
Global Recall, consisting of a set 
of exercises and questions 
aimed at helping the user devise 
a strategy for tackling daunting 
problems, from homelessness in 
New York City to hunger in the 
Sudan. Solutions developed 
through Global Recallcan be en- 
tered in an international competi- 
tion called the World Game 
Tournament. The first round is 
just winding up, with a panel of 
experts from the United Nations 
Environment Program judging 
the entries. The winner will re- 
ceive an around-the-world plane 
ticket, plus a cash prize to begin 
implementing his or her strategy. 
In addition, the top 50 solutions 
submitted will be published and 
sent to world leaders. Entries for 
the second round are due by 
December 1995. 

Gabel calls the tournament 
"an experiment in global democ- 
racy." Alice Foreman, a teacher 
at Absegami High School in New 
Jersey, considers it an important 
follow-up to the World Game 
workshops. "Students get very 
motivated when they play the 
game," she says. "The idea here 
is to carry that motivation through, 
They dont have to stop working 
on a problem just because the 
workshop has ended." And even 
though the students are young 
and relatively inexperienced, 
"they're just as capable of pro- 
viding solutions as anyone, in- 
cluding the experts, because 
their views aren't tainted by cyni- 
cism," Foreman remarks. 

To learn more about the World 
Game, contact the World Game 
Institute, 3215 Race St., Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania 19104; by 
phone at (215) 387-0220; or by 
E-mail at xtm00002@duvm.- 



A little bit of electronic vertigo may cure the acrophobe 

By Steve Nadis 

Phobia sufferers 
may not 
need prolonged 
therapy lo 
overcome condi- 
tions like 
aerophobia. With 
VR, they can 
work on their (ears 
directly in a 
way no talk ther- 
apy can match. 

A a conference, Ralph 
Lamson put on a vir- 
tual reality (VR) helmet 
and entered a new world. As a 
technician guided him through 
the novel landscape, he found 
himself on top of a tall building, 
which happened to be his great- 
est fear. "I could have taken off 
the helmet, but I decided to wait 
and see what happened," he re- 
calls. He ventured to the edge of 
the building and, looking down, 
forced himself to cope with the 
scary sensations. That sin- 
gle experience carried over, 
helping him conquer his fear 
of heights. To Lamson, the 
psychologist and therapist, 
the next step was obvious: 
He decided to see if the 
same technique would work 
for others. 

He contacted a VR com- 
pany, Division incorporated 
of Redwood City, California, 
which agreed to design a 
virtual environment enabling 
acrophobia sufferers to con- 
front their terrors head-on. In 
the acro-land scenario, vir- 
tual explorers start off in a 
cafe, go through a doorway, 
and step onto an elevated 
patio. They walk across a 
narrow plank that appears to 
be several stories above the 
ground, until they reach a 
suspension bridge spanning 
a large body of water. 

The environment certainly 
seemed realistic to the 36 pa- 
tients Lamson recruited at Kaiser 
Permanente, the San Rafael 
HMO where he practices. Acro- 
phobes conducted the VR tour 
standing up and, at times, their 
legs wobbled. Occasionally they 
grew dizzy, reaching for some- 
thing to grasp onto. Yet they 
plowed bravely ahead. Overall, 
the experiment — possibly the 
first clinical study using VR— was 
a stunning success.^ After one 

virtual therapy session, 91 per- 
cent of the subjects were able to 
attain new heights, such as walk- 
ing across the Golden Gate 
Bridge. Three months later, 91 
percent of the subjects achieved 
the goal set by Lamson: ascend- 
ing 15 stories in a glass elevator. 
Phobias are persistent, irra- 
tional fears that can restrict peo- 
ple's lives for decades, causing 
them to go to great lengths to 
avoid the things they fear most. 
After her first VR session, Mari- 

anne Descalzo of San Rafael, 
climbed a stepladder to clean 

the gutters. Previously, she'd 
been unable to get beyond the 
second step. Since then, she's 
walked around her roof, ridden a 
ferris wheel, and visited the sum- 
mit of Mount Tarn, the highest 
peak in the Bay Area. "If every- 
one did virtual therapy," She pre- 
dicts, "in about five years, no one 
would be afraid of heights." 

Why does it work? Because 
the virtual environment seems 
"real and unreal," Lamson thinks. 

"You would immediately know 
this is a computer-generated en- 
vironment, but your sensory re- 
actions seem real just the same. 
The truth is, ordinary reality is too 
real for these people. This tech- 
nology offers a step before real- 
ity — a place where they can con- 
front and work through their 
fears." The approach involves 
the lowering of the stress re- 
sponse. "You can see it in the 
heart rate and blood pressure 
measurements [monitored con- 
tinuously during the VR ex- 
cursions]," explains Lamson, 
who plans to soon offer vir- 
tual therapies for claustro- 
phobia and agoraphobia. 

Hardie Dunn of Division 
Incorporated thinks it will be 
relatively easy to design en- 
vironments featuring spiders 
or snakes for people afraid 
of those creatures. "The 
hardest part is to figure out 
all the applications. We've 
just begun to think about the 
psychiatric conditions for 
which this technology might 
be useful." Meanwhile, VR 
has Lamson reconsidering 
the traditional reliance on 
talk therapy. "It now appears 
in most cases people won't 
need prolonged therapy to 
overcome conditions like 
acrophobia. With VR, they 
can work on the fears di- 
rectly, in a way no talk therapy 
can match." He challenges the 
idea that virtual therapy might 
treat the symptoms rather than 
the underlying syndrome. "Some 
theories maintain these folks 
have deep-seated problems, but 
our study suggests they can get 
over their problems pretty quickly, 
If it takes years to solve these 
phobias with conventional ther- 
apy, that may reflect the ineffec- 
tiveness of the therapeutic 
approach, rather than the sever- 
ity of the problem. "DO 



This model plane seats two and is designed for mach 1 .4 

By Robert Mark 

It used to be the only way to 
get into the cockpit of a super- 
sonic jet was to enlist In the 
military or get a job flying the 
Concorde. If Jim Bede is suc- 
cessful, the process will get a bit 
easier. The aeronautical engineer 
has designed the BD-10 per- 
sonal jet, a smooth, gleaming, 
metal-and-composite craft that 
resembles a scaled-down ver- 
sion of the F-15 Eagle. 

At 2,410 pounds empty 
weight, the BD-10 is 
smaller than the typical 

though, with tc 
tested speeds 
proaching 600 miles | 
hour and a yet-to-be 
power reserve that's capable of 
propelling the craft through the 
sound barrier toward mach 1.4, 
Powered by the same engine as 
the Air Force's T-38 supersonic 
trainer, the BD-10 cruises at 
45,000 feet, yet it can land on 
runways shorter than 3,000 feet. 

The only certification neces- 
sary to fly a BD-10 is a private pi- 
lot's license with an instrument 
rating. Bede explains, "I wanted 
to design an airplane as per- 
sonal transportation that a non- 
professional pilot could fly easily. 
It contains no complicated sys- 
tems, yet is exceptionally stable 
and reliable." The BD-10 is even 
being scrutinized by a number of 
foreign governments as a possi- 
ble trainer. The basic price of the 
aircraft is about $450,000, com- 

plete with engine and radios. 
This is comparable to the cost of 
many general-aviation aircraft, 
and a fraction of the price of the 
typical military jet trainer. 

Before you dig for your check- 
book, there is a catch. The BD- 
10, licensed in the experimental 
aircraft category, is kit-built. 
Plunk down your cash, and with- 
in a few weeks an 1 8-wheeler pulls 
up in front of your house with 30 
crates containing some 5,200 in- 
dividual parts, many produced 
by subcontractors that supply in- 
dustry giants like Boeing Air- 
craft. Chesterfield, Missouri- 
based Bede Jet Corporation 
supplies the parts, but you sup- 
ply the sweat eguity, through the 
use of relatively simple hand 
tools, to turn this assortment of 
bolts, rivets, and sheet metal into a 
real live flying machine. "If this air- 
plane had been tunneled through 
the standard FAA certification 
process,'' Bede says, "the cost 
would have been about one-and- 
a-half to two million dollars." 
BD-10 owner Jim Priebe's 

aircraft, which should be the 
first owner-built kit to actu- 
Jly fly, is currently under- 
going taxi tests near 
Priebe's Findlay, Ohio, home. After 
flying the BD-10 prototype from 
Bede's Chesterfield factory, he 
said, "It's an easy airplane to fly. 
There's nothing complicated, 
nothing tricky about it, It's just in- 
credibly exciting with that 
panoramic view through the bub- 
ble canopy." 

The BD-10 is also capable of 
aerobatics. In fact, Priebe says, 
"My wife has just ten hours logged 
as a pilot, and the'Bede demon- 
stration pilot was able to talk her 
through a simple aileron roll. She 
loved it." Celebrity pilots who've 
flown the BD-10 prototype in- 
clude actors John Travolta and 
Cliff Robertson, as well as come- 
dian Jerry Seinfeld. 

Current EPA regulations pro- 
hibit civil aircraft from supersonic 
flights over the United States be- 
cause of possible noise pollution 
from the aircraft's shock wave. 
But Bede believes the noise foot- 
print of the BD-10 is so small at 
0.7 pounds-per-square-foot over 
pressure (a measure of noise 
pollution; any value under one is 
technically inaudible), compared 
to over 2.3 for the Concorde SST, 
that supersonic cross-country 
flight might become a reality 
some day. 

Not surprisingly, turf-sensitive 
aircraft manufacturers are skep- 
tical of some of Jim Bede's 
claims. And Paul Poberezny, 
founder and chairman of the 
board of the Experimental Air- 
craft Association says of the BD- 
10, "It's very well designed, but 
the pilot must learn how to safely 
operate the aircraft within its ca- 
pabilities before he or she climbs 
into the cockpit." 

Never a man easily influenced 
by skeptics, Bede allays the 
fears of potential builders who 
might not believe they possess 
the necessary skill to complete 
the project alone by promoting a 
liaison with Minden, Nevada- 
based, Fox 10 Corporation. The 
company will" assist owners in 
building and testing their BD-10 
for $169,750. FAA regulations re- 
quire the owner to actually be in- 
volved in at least 51 percent of 
the aircraft's construction 
process to qualify it as an experi- 
mental aircraft. Bede reports 15 
of the first 18 buyers are opting 
for Fox 10's help. 

But don't plan on assembling 
a BD-10 as quickly as the model 
airplanes you may have built as 
a' kid. Priebe, who started con- 
structing his BD-10 in October 
1993, believes he'd put approxi- 
mately 5,000 man-hours into the 
project before the plane flew in 
October 1994.DQ 


Understanding bat sonar 

By Steve Nadis 

Sensitive bat 

sonar can identity 

inserts by 

measuring the 

rate at which 

the bugs liap their 

tiny wings. 

First, a few facts about 
bats. They are not blind, 
despite rumors to the 
contrary. They are the only mam- 
mals that can fly. {Flying squirrels 
actually glide.) And vampire bats 
do not suck blood — they lick it. 
On behalf of the world's 800 bat 
species, the folks at the Harvard 
University Bat Lab would like to 
set the record straight. 

Psychologist Cynthia Moss, 
head of the lab, has studied the 
creatures for almost a decade. 
focusing on their highly evolved 
system of echolocation, or sonar: 
Bats obtain detailed views of 
their surroundings by emitting ul- 
trasonic sounds and analyzing 
the echoes that come back. 

The hard part for Moss and 
others in the field has been ex- 
plaining how 
bats can ex- 
tract all this in- 
formation from 
sound. Some 
answers may 
finally come 
from a com- 
puter system designed by Itiel 
Dror, a psychologist at Miami 
University in Ohio who did his 
graduate work at Harvard. Dror 
developed an artificial neural 
network that can simulate, and 
hopefully illuminate, the dazzling 
perceptual feats of bats. With the 
help of Moss and Harvard post- 
doctoral fellow Mark Zagaeski, 
Dror has put his system through 
a series of bat exercises, and it 
has performed amazingly well. 

The neural network, which 
consists of 248 processors work- 
ing in parallel, has been tested 
on routine bat-tasks: using sonar 
echoes to identify targets in the 
air and to determine the speed 
at which an object is moving. Tc 
obtain the raw input for these ex- 
periments, a loudspeaker first 
transmitted synthetic bat sounds, 

which were reflected off 
riety of objects from all different 
angles. The echoes were picked 
up by a microphone, recorded, 
and converted to digital form. In 
the first experiment, the network 
was presented with a series of 
echoes and asked to decide 
whether the target was a pyramid 
or a cube. In the second case, 
the network was asked to deter- 
mine the precise rate at which a 
propeller was turning, again on 
the basis of ultrasonic echoes. 

Neural networks, unlike con- 
ventional computers, are not pro- 
grammed in advance. They are 
trained by a process of trial and 
error during which adjustments 
are continually made to the links 
between processors. Training for 
the first task took 700 sessions, 
consuming about two weeks of 
computer time. By the end, the 
network could distinguish be- 
tween two shapes with 95 per- 
cent accuracy, regardless of the 
objects' orientation. The network 
achieved 100 percent 'accuracy 
in the second task, but only after 
thousands of training sessions. 
Once the network was trained, 
however, it could make instant 
determinations regarding shape 
or rotation speed. 

The point was not simply to 
show that a neural network could 
perform these tasks, but also to 
gain clues about how the bat 
sonar system processes the in- 
formation contained in the 
echoes. One theory, for example, 
holds that the echo, alone, does 
not carry enough information to 
enable bats to recognize targets. 
According to this cross-correla- 
tion model, the bat must some- 
how compare the signal it sends 
out with the sound that returns 
after bouncing off an object. 
However, when the information 
was presented to the neural net- 
work in this form — a comparison 
of the outgoing and incoming 

sound — the network failed to dis- 
criminate between the two 
shapes. It performed well, en the 
other hand, when the input con- 
sisted of a normal echo broken 
down into frequency channels. 
"This proves that it's possible to 
use sonar echoes- to identify 
shapes without cross-correlat- 
ing — that is, without knowledge 
of the emitted sound," Dror ex- 
plains. "I can't say what the bat 
does, but I can say that informa- 
tion about the shape is con- 
tained completely in the echo," 

The work, he adds, will pro- 
ceed on two fronts: using the 
network'to probe the bat's per- 
ceptual system, while also per- 
forming behavioral studies on 
bats themselves, "The perfor- 
mance of the bats — what they 
can or can't do — helps us think 
about how we might build a 
neural network. Bats tell us what 
is possible; they tell us what 
might be done with sonar." 

A neural network system 
could have many practical appli- 
cations, robotics being an obvi- 
ous example. Some robots already 
rely on sonar, but it is mainly 
used to keep them from bump- 
ing into objects. Equipped with 
neural networks, robots could 
wander around an environment, 
describing the location, shape, 
size, and identity of objects. 

Such neural networks might 
be used to guide autonomous 
vehicles or to do factory quality 
control. Security surveillance 
systems capable of distinguish- 
ing between a dog and an in- 
truder represent another big 
opportunity. "This is a new tool, 
and the possibilities are practi- 
cally unlimited," Dror says. "The 
main limits are those of imagina- 
tion, not of technology. "DO 

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Jamie Floyd thinks his space station will beat NASA's into orbit 

By Mark Fischetti 

of sm's own: 
Genera! Space 

Jamie #foyd always 
wanted to be an astro- 
naut. So after finishing 
medical school four years ago, 
he went to work for a NASA con- 
tractor in cardiovascular science. 
But when he began to investi- 
gate the fiasco NASA and Con- 
gress have created over the 
proposed space station Free- 
dom (now renamed Alpha), he 
came up with the idea of a life- 
time: putting a private space sta- 
tion into orbit for less. 

Floyd knew he'd never get 
anywhere pitching his space-sta- 
tion idea to U.S:- space compa- 
nies accustomed to fat govern- 
ment contracts, so he began call- 
ing Russian firms. They liked the 

space station 

MM ■■* w. 

size lo Hie 

Russians' Salyut 

iabove) in or- 
bit ay lata 1 937. 

notion. Floyd gathered three part- 
ners — a lawyer and two aero- 
space engineers — to form Gen- 
eral Space Corporation in Hous- 
ton. They then convinced seven 
engineers from the Apollo days 
to trade consulting time for equity. 

At age 33, Floyd is not a wild- 
eyed dreamer. He's a level- 
headed planner who may just be 
naive enough not to know what 
he can't do. He thinks that the 
several billion dollars that have 
been spent on a decade of 
Alpha redesigns, and the total 
estimated cost, are outrageous. 
"How can they fly this thing for 
$20 billion when it's basically four 
cans of air?" he asks. 

The Russian aerospace com- 

panies Floyd has contacted have 
formidable experience building, 
launching, and operating space 
stations like Mir. The Russian 
government, however now spends 
on space a fraction of what the 
Soviet Union once did. In August 
1993, Floyd visited three prime 
contractors to discuss price 
quotes. They were "so eager to 
do business," Floyd says, that 
he's now making monthly trips to 
hammer out technical specifica- 
tions as well as a bottom line. 

Floyd recognizes that his plan 
is a long shot that depends on 
his ability to keep forcing the 
Russians' price down, He's ask- 
ing the contractors — Machino- 
stroenia, Energia, and K.B.. 
Salyut/Kurnechev — for a Salyut- 
class space station, launch ca- 
pabilities, and a manned mission 
on a Soyuz spacecraft to initiate 
operations. The station would 
consist of a single canister 12 
feet in diameter and 45 feet long, 
only one-fifth the volume of the 
multi-can Alpha. But 'the cost 
pales in comparison. On Floyd's 
first trip, he was quoted $360 mil- 
lion to $430 million for everything 
he needed. Floyd continued to 
push the contractors, however. 
"It now looks like we can get a 
space station into orbit for less 
than $150 million," he reports. 

Now that Floyd has solid esti- 
mates, he can solicit customers 
for manned and unmanned ex- 
periments on the station, which 
could begin orbiting by late 1997. 
Likely candidates include phar- 
maceutical companies, materials 
manufacturers, and life scien- 
tists. "We're going to go after 
beer and soft-drink companies 
to take ad space, too,"' Floyd 
adds. General Space plans to 
cover its costs with such cus- 
tomer commitments, rather than 
trying to raise venture capital.. 

General Space intends to 
price its services well below 

NASA's. "They provided two 
weeks of data from a recent 
shuttle mission, and it cost about 
a billion dollars," Floyd points 
out. "We could do the same for 
one-tenth the cost." 

NASA itself could become a 
customer; pending legislation 
would require the agency to buy 
space services from private 
companies if it can't do the work 
more cheaply. Although Floyd 
ran into "a bureaucratic wall" 
when he first brought his ideas to 
NASA, he says senior NASA sci- 
entists have told him in private 
discussions that commercial 
firms could play a significant role 
in providing scientific data. Still, 
it may take legislation to get 
NASA to knock on General 
Space's door. "The private guys 
are looking to make a quick 
buck," NASA spokesman Mark 
Hess told Omni. Could General 
Space compete with NASA ser- 
vices? "I doubt it," Hess says. 

General Space is not the first 
company to attempt such an am- 
bitious venture. A decade ago, 
Space Industries international 
tried to raise venture capital for a 
$1 billion space station with NASA 
as the anchor customer. But "the 
government wanted to own its 
own facility," says Joe Allen, pres- 
ident and chief executive officer 
of the transportation technology 
company, which now produces 
shuttle hardware packages and 
satellite services. "I am sure the 
Russians could build and launch 
a space station for a reasonable 
cost today. The question is who 
would use it, if not NASA." 

That's the key for Floyd and 
his company: signing those 
much-needed customers. Still, 
he remains undaunted. And what 
does he see as the chances for 
the four-man General Space 
Corporation? "Hey," Floyd quips, 
"Hewlett-Packard started in a 


A new discovery rewrites the history of Alaska's Alutiiq Eskimos 

By George Nobbe 

A dig on 
Alaska's Alognak 
Island has 
revealed surpris- 
ing details 
about lite culture 
of the young 
Alutiiq man (top]. 
Among the 
objects tound at 
the dig were 
a spruce root bas- 
ket (middle) 
and a mask ot 
bark (bottom), 
both dating 
to the fifteenth 

■ a*fc I hen Russian fur trader 
liGrigori Ivanovich 
"■■» ■*■■ Shelekov first sailed 
into the Gulf of Alaska in 1784 
and landed at Three Saints Bay 
on Kodiak Island, he was greeted 
by a skeptical band of Pacific 
Eskimos called Alutiiqs, whom 
he and his crew considered root- 
less savages like those they had 
encountered on earlier voyages 
to the Aleutians. Shele- 
kov's Russian-Ameri- 
can company and its 
successors had no in- 
terest in the cultural 
history of the Kodiak 
Archipelago and, in 
fact, did their best to 
obliterate it altogether. 
What they wanted in 
the New World was the 
Russian equivalent of 
England's Hudson Bay 

But more than 200 
years later, archaeolo- 
gist Rick Knecht, work- 
ing nearby on wind- 
swept Afognak Island, 
has unearthed extraor- 
dinary evidence that 
could rewrite the his- 
tory of the Pacific Eski- 
mos in the archipelago. 
Artifacts excavated at 
the ancient Alutiiq set- 
tlement of Nunlliak, where 
Knecht began digging three 
years ago, have convinced the 
archaeologist that the roots of 
the current natives extend in an 
unbroken line reaching as far 
back as 7,000 years. "Today's 
Alutiiq are the descendants of 
the people who once controlled 
the balance of power in south- 
eastern Alaska, where Kodiak 
was a cultural crossroad," Knecht 
says. Archaeologists had previ- 
ously estimated that the Alutiiq 
culture was a product of migra- 
tion of outsiders who settled the 
area only eight centuries before 

the Russians arrived. 

Knecht theorizes that the 
Nuniliak settlement served as a 
summer village where perhaps 
as many as 200 natives— once 
known as Koniags — lived in a 
complex, well-developed culture 
with a distinctive social structure 
that separated rich from poor. He 
bases his belief on items recov- 
ered from a "wet site," so called 
because underground 
water apparently once 
flooded the area, seal- 
ing oft oxygen that oth- 
erwise would have 
rotted, many of the arti- 
facts. They include well- 
preserved feathers, 
sea-lion whiskers, ani- 
mal furs, human hair, 
carved boxes and bas- 
ketry, masks, wooden 
toys, whalebone har- 
poon points and blades, 
cosmetic lip and cheek 
plugs, and gambling 
implements such as 
dice. Carbon-14 dating 
has verified the age of 
many of the thousands 
of items recovered 
from the layers of soil, 
Knecht says. 

He believes that his 
discoveries shed new 
light on how the Koni- 
developed a complex, strati- 
fied society based on marine 
hunting and fishing, contrary to 
traditional anthropological beliefs 
that agriculture is a necessary 
precursor to social complexity. 
Stored food supplies free a soci- 
ety to develop socially, or so the 
theory goes. But farming was 
never necessary in the Kodiak 
archipelago because plentiful 
salmon, sea mammals, and a 
profusion of wild berries pro- 
vided all the nutritional variety 
the early settlers required. 

"These weren't Stone Age 
people sitting around eating slugs 

from under rocks," Knecht says. 
"We have grossly underesti- 
mated them. They spent the win- 
ters indoors feasting, gambling, 
and dancing. They had a lot of 
time for artistic expression." 

Based on the size of the 
structures uncovered at Nuniliak, 
Knecht infers vast differences 
between rich and poor in the old 
settlement, which sits on a bluff 
at the western end of- Afognak Is- 
land, He decided to excavate 
there after spotting the mound- 
like village from the air during a 
flight over the island following the 
1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. 

Winter feasts were given by 
the most powerful clan leaders, 
the men who controlled the 
prime fishing grounds, according 
to Knecht's reconstruction of 
events. "The feasts ratified their 
status," says the archaeologist, a 
full-time employee of the Kodiak 
Area Native Association, "These 
people comprised a pre-state 
society. They were on an upward 
trajectory. If the Russians hadn't 
arrived, who knows what they 
might have achieved?" 

Knecht's research into the Alu- 
tiiq culture has sparked consider- 
able interest among his peers. 
Knecht "has struck it rich, be- 
cause this is the earliest Eskimo 
culture we can find," says 
William S. Loughlin, a University 
of Connecticut professor of ecol- 
ogy and evolutionary biology 
and an acknowledged expert on 
Pacific Eskimos. 

Donald W. Clark, curator of 
Yukon archaeology for the Cana- 
dian Museum of Civilization in 
Hull, Quebec, believes that 
Knecht's estimates of the antiq- 
uity of the Alutiiq culture may 
even be too conservative. "It might 
even be much older than 7,000 
years," proposes Clark, a vet- 
eran of numerous digs in the Ko- 
diak area. "Perhaps 8,000 or even 
9,000 years old. "DQ 



In search of America's computer burial grounds. Plus, saving mouth-to-mouth 

resuscitation, and explaining sick statues 

Our Radio Shack TRS-80 
Model 1 Level II with not four, 
not eight, but 16 kilobytes of 
memory was something of a 
marvel in its heyday, but the 
glory was short-lived. With 
each new year, faster, leaner 
models pushed our trusty 
TRS-80 down the back side 
of the bell curve. Today the 
machine sits on a shelf, its 
circuits compromised by the 
forces of entropy, its station 
long since taken by a computer 
with more power and speed. 

This year will mark the 
retirement of some 79 million 
■ personal computers, but where 
do those old computers go 
when they die? My investiga- 
tion revealed some interest- 
ing clues about how an up-to-the-minute society forgets. 

The Pawn Shop: The classifieds contain countless 
pleas to take an informed computer off someone's hands. 
Used machines find good uses as trainers for kids or as 
restricted-duty word processors. As operating systems 
change and software becomes unusable, sometimes old 
computers are kept just to play a favorite game, or to run 
an outdated but useful spreadsheet. Government agen- 
cies are a ready market for obsolete computers. (Wouldn't 
want bureaucracy to move too quickly, now.) Underfunded 
school systems and foreign countries such as Mexico are 
also eager for hand-me-downs, be they donated or pawned. 

The Scrap Heap: When the secondary markets aren't 
buying any, a computer may suffer a fate worse than death: 
cannibalization. Lisa Cadena, manager of an Austin PC 
repair shop, wields a sharp scalpel.' But when a machine 
is beyond fixing — an atrophied 8088, a bone-weary 
286 — she often allows customers to pay the labor bill by 
letting her "part out" the computer. She extracts artifacts 
like 360K floppy drives and EGA video cards for sale on 
the used market. For terminal cases, she sometimes rec- 
ommends a less involved solution: "People bring me 
these things and I just tell them to use it as a boat anchor." 

The Recycling Bin: Computers aren't the most eco- 
friendly form of landfill. Nickel-cobalt found in disk drives; 
copper in transformers; silver, gold, palladium, and plat- 
inum in circuit boards; and cadmium, mercury, and lead 
in batteries make a noxious potpourri. Companies such 

as Aurora Electronics of 
Irvine, California, do a brisk 
business removing environ- 
mentally hazardous parts and 
recycling circuit boards. The 
company processed 3.7 mil- 
lion chips in the first quarter 
of fiscal 1994. Last year's rev- 
enues: $40 million. 

The Retro-fitters: Take a 
286, maybe something older, 
like a quasi-IBM-compatible 
Tandy. Then add: 90-MHz 
Pentium motherboard with 
32-bit PCI local bus video 
($1,400); .25 dot pitch, 17- 
inch flatscreen color monitor 
($1,000); 16-meg RAM mod- 
ule ($700); quad-speed CD- 
ROM drive, with 180-millisec- 
ond access time (S450); 
28,800 bit-per-second fax/modem ($250); 420-MB, 12- ■ 
millisecond, enhanced IDE hard drive ($225); and a 
mouse pad autographed by Bill Gates. What do you 
have: (a) the hottest silicon hot rod since the HAL 9000; 
(b) a paved on-ramp to the infobahn; (c) a paved on- 
ramp to personal bankruptcy court? 

The Mausoleum: Progress marches double time. 
Historical memory grows at a glacier's pace. At a time 
when dozens of slick magazines hail each new genera- 
tion of computer, older machines, born before the trade 
media boom, are only now getting their days in the lime- 
light. Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola have opened 
shrines to their earliest products. In the hallowed halls of 
the Smithsonian sits a 40-year-old Bendix G15 which 
worked just fine, thank you, with its vacuum tubes and 
rotating magnetic drum. The Smithsonian isn't the only 
place where a computer can get an honorable burial. 
Outside of King George, Virginia, parts of a 1947 vintage 
Harvard Mark III lie interred beneath a farmhouse patio, 
(It's a long story.) 

The Dust Bin: Most computers nearing retirement will 
meet a less noble end. Like our old TRS-80, they will be 
shunted aside like aged starlets into obscure retirement. 
They will join other obsolete hulks— TVs, eight-track play- 
ers, toasters— in closets and attics, never again to feel 
the surge of electrons that brought them to humming life. 
Let us not forget to thank them for their memories. 




Through the millennia, 
scientists have grappled with 
the daunting problem 
of why snakes have forked 
tongues, offering explana- 
tions that range from the sub- 
lime to the ridiculous. 

Aristotle thought it was to 
give them "a twofold plea- 
sure from savours, their gus- 
tatory sensation being 
as it were doubled." And the 
seventeenth-century Ital- 
ian naturalist Hodierna opined 
that their forked tongues 
were "for picking the dirt out 
of their noses." 

"As it happens, Aristotle 
was close to the truth," 
says University of Connecti- 
cut herpetologist Kurt 
Schwenk, whose hypothesis 
is that the divided tongue 
tip is a chemosensory edge 
detector used to follow 
the chemical pheromone trails 
of both prey and other 
snakes. It's a guidance system 
rather than a taste organ. 

"Its tongue is a delivery 
system for paired chemo- 
32 OMNI 

sensors in the snout, called 
the vomeronasal organs," 
Schwenk explains. "These or- 
gans communicate with 
the oral cavity through two 
tiny openings in the palate." 

As the snake glides 
through its environment, it 
constant.'/ :; icKS i'.s tongue 
forward, sometimes oscillat- 
ing it, then retracting it 
after the organ strikes the 
ground or some object 
in its path. What the creature 
is doing is collecting odor 
mo.ecLiles which its tongue 
delivers to the chemo- 
sensors. As Schwenk exp-ans 
it, the process enables 
snakes "to sample simulta- 
neously two points along 
a chemical gradient, which 
provides the basis for 
hs~an:aneous assessment 
of trail location." 

The mechanism is one 
that snakes inherited 
from lizards, says Schwenk, 
adding that from the 
evolutionary point of view, 
"snakes are just very 
modified lizards." 

_ — George Nobbe 


oculation in contaminated 

soils requires, no. further . 

German researchers hope 

care. The system' should 

that designer bacteria ' 

eliminate up to 70 per- 

can clean up part, of the 

cent of the explosive pollu- 

mess left behind by the 

ants present, Martin 

Cold War. Research teams . 

Wittmaier of the University 

in Berlin and Braun- 

of Braunschweig, makes 

■ schweig, Germany, have 

use of bacteria which seek 

developed bacterial ■ 

out and destroy the aro- 

strains whose special talent 

matic, hydrocarbons— ben- ■ 

is eating explosives. The 

zene, toluene, andxy- 

microbes will be employed 

ene— on which the explo- 

for the biological decontam- 

sive compound's are 

ination of soils damaged 

based. Wittmaier's bacteria 

by weapons production 

must be fed nutrients 

and other military activities. 

tirough a network of tubes . 

■ Germany's Federal 

nserted.into the ground 

Office for the Environment, 

as they work, but he claims ' ; 

the Umweltbundesamt, 

lie method can remove 

beiieves that thousands of 

up to 99. percent of present 

sites in the country may 

contaminants. : 

be contaminated with explo- 

Explosives-eating bac- 

sive pollutants. The prob- 

eria will soon be put to 

lem is particularly severe 

a practical test cleaning up 

on the bases abandoned 

he mess at the site of 

by the former.Soviet Red 

an abandoned explosives. 

Army in eastern Germany 

actory, where soil 

The bacterial strains, de- contaminated, with 

veloped by the German' 

nitrotoluene compounds — 

researchers specific ally tar- 

o the degree that clean-up 

get residual deposits of 

squads prefer not to 

TNT (trinitrotoluene) and a 

crli into the ground for core 

related compound, DNT ■ 

samples in some Con- 

(cimtrotoluene). The mi- 

aminated areas because 

crobes. are derived . 

hey're afraid the soil will 

from scNiOmycefes. onmi- 

explode. — James Hansen 

tive bacteria already nor- 
mally present in soils. They 

work against target pollu- 

HBmmmSjPhiii^S ' 

tants by breaking downfhe 

complex nitrogen com- 

pounds which make up 

most military explosives. 

The digested nitrogen com- 

pounds-left in sail's after 

decontamination are effec- 

tively a form of fertilizer. 

The Berlin group em- 

ploys a balanced culture 

of aerobic and anaerobic 

New bacteria find waste from 

bacteria, which after in- 

weapons production tasty.- 


Can mouth-to- mouth resus- 
citation (MMR) be brought 
back to life? A recent study 
by California physicians 
Berry Brenner and Jane Kauf- 
mann found that 45 per- 
cent of the 433 doctors stud- 
ied, and 80 percent of 
the 152 nurses, would not do 
MMR on a stranger. Be- 
tween 18 and 25 percent 
would not do it on a child. 
And 85 percent would not 
do it on a stranger in a 
gay neighborhood. 

.Brenner says medical 
personnel are afraid of 
contracting diseases, such as 
AIDS or HIV. During MMR, 
people may vomit — some- 
times blood — and may 
bite. Brenner says no one 

plastic type that paramedics 
use when they give MMR. 
This provides a barrier be- 
tween the resuscitator 
and the patient. It isn't fool- 
proof — the patient can 
bite the stem off the mask — 
but it's much better than 
nothing, Brenner says. 

Still, he is clearly worried. 
"We may be entering an 
era where MMR will only be 
done on family members 
and friends," says Brenner "or 
in close-knit communities 
like the Amish and Orthodox 
Jewish." — Paul McCarthy 


A British pathologist, 
acting on a hunch, has un- 
covered another piece of 
the sudden infant death syn- 
drome (SIDS) puzzle. Com- 


knows if swallowed blood can 
transmit HIV, "but some 
literature suggests that oc- 
casionally bites have." 

This has grave implications 
for MMR, according to 
Brenner, because in the past 
physicians and nurses 
have performed anywhere 
from 50 to 75 percent of 
nonfamily, bystander MMR, 
where a stranger re- 
ceives care in an emer- 
gency situation. 

But Brenner isn't ready 
to perform the last rites 
for MMR just yet. He thinks 
medical personnel can 
be trained in the use of bag- 
and-valve masks, the clear 

monly called crib death, the 
syndrome's causes have 
eluded scientists for years. 

William Roche, of Eng- 
land's University of Southamp- 
ton, says his studies of 
lung tissue from 48 victims 
of the syndrome and 30 
babies who died of other 
causes revealed a three- 
fold increase in inflammatory 
cells called eosinophils in 
the SIDS infants, Roche says 
those cells' toxins can 
cause fever, leakage of fluid 
into the airspaces of the 
lungs, and constriction of 
small air passages. 

The pathologist, a spe- . 
cialist in allergy and 

An inappropriate immune-system response may be one of She 
causes of SID known as crib death. 

asthma, says crib death fol- 
lows — but is not caused 
by — a pattern similar to that 
seen in allergic reaction. 
"I just had a gut feeling that 
might be applicable," said 
Roche. "We tend to think of 
infants as small adults, 
which they obviously are not, 
This occurs in an infant 
before the immune system is 
developed and regulation 
is established. Something in 
the assembly is wrong 
and it fires off the wrong mes- 
sages, somehow triggering 
an inappropriate response." 

-His research team will 
now try to discover what agent 
causes the ir 

sponse. In an effort to learn 
why and how the chemical 
messengers carry the wrong 
messages, they hope to 
examine tissue as speedily 
as possible — optimally 
no more than three hours 
after death. Over 5,000 
infants succumb each year 
in the United States to 
the puzzling syndrome, which 
scientists in Australia, 
New Zealand, and the Nether- 
lands have linked to over- 
heated nurseries, face-down . 
sleeping positions, and 
wrapping infants too snugly 
in winter (when crib 
deaths peak), 

— George Nobbe 




The Venus de Milo and other 
ancient statues usually 
depict figures of enviable 
beauty. Not all statuary 
subjects are to be envied, 
apparently: A photograph 
of a 2,000-year-old statue of 
a fellow covered with un- 
sightly nodules has been un- 
earthed. Hardly a tradi- 
tional celebration of beauty 
like so many other ancient 
carvings, this statue is cov- 
ered with authentically 

tive offering to the god of 
healing, Asclepius, in 
graceful thanks for curing an 
illness. "But such offer- 
ings," says Ragge, "usually 
depict a healthy, cured 
body part. A pathological rep- 
■n is very unusual." 
Ragge and Munier began 
their research after being 
puzzled over- the lack of an- 
cient reports of NF1, 
which causes tumors and 
arge skin nodules all over 
the body. Affecting one in 
3,000 people, its earliest 


3 sculpted skin lesions. 
It is thought to have 
n sculpted in the 
E golden Greek city 
I of Smyrna, now Izmir 

■ in Turkey. Two 
? doctors believe it was 
probably a 3-D 

hing aid to help 
ancient Greek med- 
ical students diagnose 
a hereditary dis- 
ise — specifically 
i matosis type 1 


I Nicola Ragge 
I and Francis 
I Munier say the 
I statue (lost 
I during World 
I War II) was 
L originally thought 
to be a vo- 

convincing medical descrip- 
tions date from the eigh- 
teenth century. Genetic evi- 
dence that NF1 is an 
ancient disease made the 
scarcity of earlier reports 
surprising Tooeiher the doc- 
tors hunted for illustrations 
in ancient paintings and draw- 
ings, as well as in old 
medical texts. They finally 
tracked down the picture 
of the Hellenic torso — head- 
less and limbless — in a 
German academic volume 
published in 1921. The skin lesions, they say 
don't look right for dis- 
eases such as leprosy or 
syphilis. They're confi- 
dent that the statue is prob- 
ably the first known de- 
picter of NF1 , and thus the 
old-world equivalent of a 
medical school wall chart. 
— IvorSmullen 


irst engine, invented 

oefore petroleum refining 

Electrically powered vehicles 

nad been perfected. 

may get all the press, 

Ongoing tests by the 

but for mass transportation 

Departments of Defense 

the alternative fuel of the 

and Agriculture, the South- 

future could be biodiesel. 

west Research Institute, 

This efficient, renewable, 

and ORTECH International 

and relatively emission-free 
replacement fuel for 

T"" 8 ^ ,:* 

diesel-powered vehicles is 

made from vegetable 

~4*j£mm£ --"t" .:' 

oils such as canola, soybean, 

W 'ifrWi&E 

sunflower, or rapeseed oil. 

IT' #1T** 

A mixture of 20 percent 


biodiesel and 80 per- 

cent petroleum diesel has 


performed well in over 


seven million miles of tests 

on buses and other 

vehicles in the United States. 

Tests show that with cat- 

alytic converters and ad- 

justments to engine 

timing, it cut particulate 

matter by 31 percent, 

carbon monoxide by 21 per- 

n iiling up with biodiesel may 

cent, and total hydro- 

educe harmful emissions. 

carbon emissions by 47 

percent. The blended 

af Canada, are verifying 

fuel costs about 40 cents a 

oiodiesel's improved emis- 

gallon more than con- 

sion characteristics. 

ventional diesel. 

Demonstrations in several 

Biodiesel is made by a 

arge cities with big 

process called estrifica- 

municipal bus fleets have 

tion, in which an alcohol 

Droven biodiesel's ease 

such as methanol is 

Df use and performance. 

mixed with a catalyst such 

= urther development 

as sodium hydroxide and 

and emissions reiinement 

canola, soybean, sunflower 

would improve its mar- 

or rapeseed oil to pro- 

stability, delight thousands 

duce a methyl ester. The 

Df soybean and canola 

idea of using this fuel in 

growers, and help meet 

diesel engines shouldn't be 

ougher Clean Air Act 

surprising, according 

standards due to come 

to Kenlon Johannes, exec- 

nto effect in 1998. 

utive director of the Na- 

Biodiesel, already widely 

tional Biodiesel Development 

available in Europe, is dis- 

Board in Jefferson City, 

ributed in the United States 

Missouri, He points out that 

ny Interchem Environ- 

Dr. Rudolf Dfes'el used ■ 

mental in Overland. Park, 

pure vegetable oil in his 

<ansas. — George Nob be 



Kenny Ausubel is hoping 
that Americans will buy 
the concept of biodiversity 
and he means that quite 
literally. Ausubel is the former 
chief executive officer of 
a small Santa Fe company, 
Seeds of Change, that is 
hoping to get a rich blend 
of crops back into the 
food chain. The ideas be- 
hind this venture are laid 
out in Ausubel's 1994 book, 
Seeds of Change: The 
Living Treasure. 

Many scientists — Harvard 
biologist E, 0. Wilson in- 
cluded—regard the loss of 
biodiversity as one of 
the top environmental prob- 
lems in the world. Plants 
and animals, according to 
Ausubel, are disappear- 
ing from the world at the rate 

of 27,000 species a year, 

75 a day, and three an hour. 
"Though most people 
have heard about the spe- 
cies lost due to destruc- 
tion of tropical rain forests, 
almost as much is being 
lost from farmers' fields as 
from the wilds," he says, 
Twenty years ago, there were 
30,000 different varieties 
of rice. Today, 10 types ac- 
count for 75 percent of 
world rice production. Simi- 
larly, he adds, 97 per- 
cent of the American food 
varieties available in 
1900 are gone. 

The narrowing food base 
makes our supplies in- 
creasingly vulnerable io dis- 
ease, like that which 
wiped out Ireland's potato 
crop in the 1840s and 
the corn blight which struck 
the southeastern United 
States in 1970. "Nature 

doesn't favor centraliza- 
tion," Ausubel notes. Diver- 
sity, on the other hand, is 
"the fabric of life. If a path- 
ogen comes along, some 
plants will be killed off, but 
others will survive." 

With this principle in mind, 
Seeds of Change aims 
to reintroduce diversity into 
the food system. Of 
course, the 6,000 seeds in 
the company's collection 
are of limited value unless 
others choose to plant 
them. Ausubel notes that 
gardening is the most 
popular leisure-time activity 
in the country. "Most glo- 
bal problems, such as cli- 
matic change, seem so 
remote, so disempowering. 
But with biodiversity, indi- 
viduals can do something 
profoundly important in 
their own backyards." 

— Steve Nad is 


The Pink Pigeon of the island 
of Mauritius in the Indian 
Ocean may still be around 
today thanks to its toxic 
flesh, a defense mechanism 
that's extremely rare in 
birds. Stanley A. Temple, a 
wildlife ecologist at the 
University of Wisconsin, 
brought the foul-flavored 
fowl to scientific attention. He 
remarks that hunters have 
long known of the toxic effect 
of the bird's flesh. "Accord- 
ing to Mauritian folklore, peo- 
ple who eat the Pink 
Pigeon become deathly ill," 
he says. "The birds' rep- 
utation for inedibility proba- 
bly saved therri from 

being hunted to extinction 
like the dodo and the 
other pigeon species formerly 
found on the island." 

The source of the bird's 
toxic properties was 
vividly revealed to Temple 
while he was taste-testing 
a fruit which he had observed 
the pigeons eating, in 
order to determine if they pre- 
ferred a particular flavor. 
"Within minutes I felt a grow- 
ing numbness in my 
mouth and throat," he recalls. 
"I panicked as I realized 
the fruit was toxic." 

As he became ill, Temple's 
thoughts raced. Perhaps 
the birds somehow accu- 
mulate this dietary toxin 
in their own bodies without ill 
effect, only to poison 
any who ate them. Hunters 


learned to avoid the 
conspicuously colored pink 
birds. The queasy wildlife 
ecoiogist quickly jotted notes 
in his journal so that "if I 
died, at least others would 
know why." 

By accumulating the toxin 
from their food rather 
than manufacturing it from 
scratch in their bodies, the 
Pink Pigeons spare them- 
selves an energy-demand- 
ing biological. process. But 
exactly how the pigeons 
remain immune to the effects 

of the poison is less certain. 

Many chemically de- 
fended species use con- 
spicuous coloration to 
warn (or remind) predators — 
including humans — how 
unpalatable they are. "Sci- 
entists have coined the 
term aposematism to de- 
scribe this combination 
of chemical defense and 
warning signals," Temple 
explains, pointing to such 
famous examples as 
skunks and coral snakes. But 
while the pigeons' defense 
appears to have helped them 
survive thus far their fu- 
ture is in jeopardy due to 
habitat loss and depre- 
dations of exotic mammals, 
and fewer than 40 indi- 
viduals are known to be left 
in the wild. — Mark Sunlin 




Forget about tfie safe distance afforded 
by the soft reality of cyberspace. This 
show is real and really outrageous. 


BY KIT C A 111 (i %!\ 




Wj4 ^^H 



"When I was fourteen 
years old, my grand- 
father stood in front 
of me and took a hit) 
long surgical needle 
and drove it into his 
heud through his nose. 
After he took it out, he 
handed it to me and 
said, '(Vow you try it*"' 

' 1 

t have spent al leasl 13 of the last 40 
hours in a rented van, driving from Cal- 
gary, Alberta, through the Canadian 
Rockies to Abbotsford, British Colum- 
bia, and my reality feels as if it has 
acquired a heavier-than-usuai layer of 
grit. So it's not too surprising that I fit 
right in here at the Katz Club, whose 
reality it seems has also been crusted 
by a bit of travel dust from the road. 

Covering the alcove leading to one 
of the pool tables, below a crazed Ren 
and a manic Stimpy, is a large hand- 
painted illustration of a man pierced in 
several places by long needles. 
"Impaler" is the legend across the top 
of the canvas; "Unusual," it says in the 
lower left corner, and in the lower right, 
"No Illusion." Everyone who comes into 
the club sees that one first. Then the 
eye travels on to the canvas hanging 
beside it, the one hiding the pinball 
machines and the videogames, the 
one that shows someone strapped to a 
wooden electric chair with the juice on. 
"Electric Chair! Real!" 

On the other side of the room another 
canvas displays a hollow-eyed lady 
enjoying — if that is the word — a meal of 
40 OMNI 

pink worms from the bowl of some un- 
fortunate's brain pan. "Bug Eater," states 
the legend above the image. "Weird," 
the canvas further assures. "Alive. 
Alive"— in case there was any doubt. 

Eventually, I notice the area where 
bands would most likely set up on live 
music nights. But there is no band 
playing. Tonight the stage is set in 
baroque, with overtones of the Gothic 
and the outre which draw the crowd for 
a closer look at the small, almost- 
human figure in the formal, pinstriped 
suit. Standing four feet high, he Is 
poised beside an onstage banner as if 
he had just stepped out from behind 
it — perhaps to check on the rest of the 
set, or to count the house, or maybe 
just to see the expressions on people's 
faces as they tried to get a closer look 
at the bald head, the pointed ears, and 
the demonic, fleshless grin below cold, 
hard, absolutely dry eyes. 

This is Boris, road manager for the 
current tour of Canada's only profes- 
sional performing sideshow, Carnival 
Diablo, or so the ringmaster, Scott 
McClelland, told the staff of the'club 
where Carnival Diablo performed that 

night. If the staff regarded this some- 
what skeptically before the show, what 
they witnessed during the performance 
put them through enough changes that 
afterward, Boris seemed among the 
more normal aspects of the night. 

Regulars frequent this place. It's 
that kind of joint, run by three guys still 
young enough to be in this business 
because they like their nightlife. They've 
tried some different diversions here; 
bar Olympics went over pretty well. As 
far as entertainment goes, the bands 
they book play a lot of covers. People 
like what they know, and they're here 
to dance. But not this evening. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, what you see 
here tonight could change your 
lives . . . forever." Under the colored 

lights, the ringmaster's eyes are dark 
holes in his too-pale face. "Welcome to 
Carnival Diablo!" 

The. audience doesn't seem sure 
how to react. Is this guy putting them 
on? After all, they're children of their 
time— high technology, high expec- 
tations. The special effects that used to 
take movie-making teams months to 

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*"II*s ainasing fcoie ut 
home I feel in the world 
of sideshmv. it's almost 
like dejtt vu, like coming 
back to a place where 
uou know you helong. 
This is my place. Be- 
sides, where else could 
1 find such a wonderful 
and nutritious diet?"' 

A x * * : :■ ; 

achieve are now available as screen- 
savers for desktop PCs and Macs. These 
people have seen aliens, predators, 
terminators, UFOs, superheroes, white 
worms, and black holes. They're giggling. 

The giggles turn a little nervous as 
the man on stage warns them that 
tonight, they will witness some very 
unusual practices involving the tran- 
scending of the human body and the 
negation of pain. In shopping-mall 
video arcades, they can pay a buck a 
minute for a VR helmet and transcend 
the body in some weirdo computer- 
generated cartoon full of angles and 
facets. Get shot by another player, 
there's a flash of light but no pain at all. 
How can anyone do that in real life? 

And then there's Boris, grinning at 
them from one position throughout the 
night. Boris doesn't move like Disney's 
animatronic figures, so what is it sup- 
posed to be — besides creepy? The 
explanation never comes, but it doesn't 
matter. Because this isn't a bunch of 
special effects in a movie or a com- 
puter-generated picture or an anima- 
tronic re-creation of some historical 
figure, nor is it happening on the other 

42 OMNI 

side of the world and coming to them 
via satellite. This is right before their 
very eyes, this minute, no computer 
fudging, no instant replay in slo-mo. If 
you're going to get people to sit still for 
unenhanced reality, it had better- be 
arresting. Remarkable. Extraordinary. 
Very extraordinary. If it's real life, it had 
better be bigger than life.- 

And that is precisely why the side- 
show is back in town, Scott McClelland 
told me earlier that day. The carnival 
ideal thai he and the other members of 
the troupe have done their best to 
adhere to is the encounter with the 
bizarre that sends the observer on an 
emotional roller coaster. If the capacity 
crowd in the club tonight is any 
indication, people crave to ride that 
roller coaster more than ever, even in 
these high-tech times — maybe even 
because of them. 

Bui . . . sideshow? It's an unex- 
pected juxtaposition, this shiny, high- 
tech, information-rich era we live in 
now, and this old-style entertainment 
reminiscent of a simpler time. Side- 
show, McClelland says, is an art form 
made to remind us that our technology 

and our information deluge don't satisfy 
every part of the human spirit. Western 
society, he feels, is lacking a cultural 
expression for the thrilling curiosity 
which attends acts of mystery and of 
magic. "I think that when people come 
to a sideshow, it's a modern way of a 
primitive culture coming together to 
see the shamans perform their magic. 
People need to learn about the mag- 
ics parts of themselves, and we're not 
talking about illusions. We're talking 
about their looking for that side that 
seems to have been lost because we 
live in such a high-tech society," 

Is that really what we're looking for 
when we go to a sideshow — some kind 
of spiritual experience? Given the 
promises of Carnival Diablo's own 
sideshow banners — The impaler, The 
Electric Chair, The Bug Eater — the 
experience waring for us would seem 
to be a bit more primal. What we would 
ree.iiy seem to be looking for, when we 
go to a sideshow, is something ffeafey 
to stare at — something or someone. 

There are several parts to a tradi- 
tional circus sideshow, as explained 
by McClelland, who should know — his 

grandfather, Nicholas Paul Lewchuk, 
owned Canada's largest' touring carni- 
val sideshow and vaudeville troupe 
between 1920 and 1968. The Lewchuk 
Midway came to rest in Canora, Sas- 
katchewan, and McClelland's mother, 
Sonia, grew up working the concessions. 
McClelland himself spent his childhood 
summers listening to his grandfather's 
stories of life in the carnival 

The stock features of the carnival 
are as familiar as elephants at the cir- 
cus. First, there is the Freak Show, which 
consists of human oddities such as the 
fat lady, the human skeleton, and the 
Siamese twins, as well as anomalies in 
jars, known in the trade as "pickled 
punks," which can be either animal — 
two-headed calves and the like — or 
human. Then there are the sideshow 
performances: human marvels such as 
sword-swallowers, contortionists, and 
fire-eaters and physical freaks, such as 
midgets or so-called giants who may 
have an additional talent, like singing 
or playing a musical instrument. 

Finally there are the blow-offs — illu- 
sions like the Lady With No Head (just 
a lot of tubes coming out ot her neck), 
the Snake Woman, or the Girl-To-Gorilla 
illusion. There was also the big blow- 
off, usually a hermaphrodite, cordoned 
off in an area meant for viewing only by 

people 18 and over. The hermaphro- 
dite was the clincher aimed at making 
attendees spend a little more money 
than they already had, and it was usu- 
ally so good that people really didn't 
mind — in fact, McClelland says, it was 
quite the opposite. "People felt privi- 
leged that they could.see such marvels 
for just a little bit extra." 

Given that the ever-vigilant and 
omnipresent media seem always ready 
to swoop down on any newsworthy 
event— and the more lurid, the better — 
then our so-called modern time is not 
as far removed from the sideshow as 
we would like to think, How else to 
describe the media frenzy over some 
British Royals' foundering marriages, a 
teenager who shot her much-older 
lover's spouse, or a former football star's 
day in court on murder charges but as, 
say, the Great Media Sideshow? 

Tour the exhibits: instead of JoJo, 
the Dog-Faced Boy, we have Michael 
Jackson. The Fat Lady is more likely to 
have her own TV show rather than her 
own tent, while the Human Skeleton 
can be seen modeling designer 
clothes on a Paris runway. 

See the performances: Barnum had 
the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind; we 
have Madonna — or Marian, or Barbra, or 
whoever can draw the crowd this week. 

No doubt about it, we are fascinated 
with our freaks, and if there are none 
handy to stare at, we are only too ready 
to turn somebody into one just so we 
can stare. 

Sideshow is definitely, not the sort of 
thing you'd watch beamed by satellite 
from an arena in Sydney on pay-per- 
view. It's in-person and intimate — actu- 
ally a little too intimate and in-your-face 
with its sights and sounds. It will amaze 
you, shock you, scare you a little, prob- 
ably offend you, and then laugh hearti- 
ly at your discomfort with no apologies 
for any of it. Maybe that makes it the 
perfect antidote to the era of political 
correctness, when nobody wants to 
offend anybody else. 

In anticipation of seeing the Carnival 
Diablo performance at the Katz Club, 
I'd been wondering exactly what — in a 
time when people are promised that in 
the very near future they'll have five 
hundred channels to surf and an artifi- 
cial reality that will outdo anything nat- 
ural reality has to offer — exactly what 
will make people still want to leave their 
homes for entertainment. Now I know. 

The Lady Julianna plucks an earth- 
worm from the bowl on the table in front 
of her and dangles it between two fin- 
gers for the audience so they can see 
that it is very much alive and squirm- 


Jme 10,1%8- /I resourceful Gary Allan 
ntctchm&n fabricates tin early version of the 
b*ck' mounted intern! combustion te&f blowerand 
is test seen heading due west over Poik Cify, 


ffprif 2f, 1919: Swiss psychiatrist 
Pr Hermann Rorschach at the moment 
of inspiration for his renouned 
psychological projective personality test 


Editor's note: This is the first 
of twelve chapters in the 
Omni Open Book Field 
Investigator's Guide, the 
ultimate tool kit for hunting 
UFOs. in his first installment, 
Dennis Stacy tells UFO hunt- 
ers how to locate "prey" — in 
other words, a UFO worth 
investigating at all. 

The Need for a Guide 
On November 2, 1957, at 
about 10:00 p.m.— long be- 
fore the world at large knew 
of it — the Soviets launched 
their second dog-carrying 
Sputnik. An hour later, on the 
flat plains of the Texas pan- 
handle, near the otherwise 
unremarkable town of Level- 
land, ranch hands Pedro 
Saucedo and Joe Salaz 
encountered something that 
forever changed their lives. 

According to Saucedo's 
signed statement, "I was 
traveling north and west on 
Route 116, driving my truck, 
At about four miles out of 
Levelland, I saw a big flame, 
to my right front. I thought it 
was lightning." The white 
and yellow torpedo-shaped 
object, Saucedo went on to 
say, apparently made his 
truck's motor step and the 
headlights fail. Traveling at 
some 600 to 800 miles an 
hour, he estimated, the ob- 
ject generated so much heat 
he "had to hit the ground." 

Over the next two hours, 
Patrolman A. J. Fowler would 
receive at least a dozen more 
calls, all of them from inde- 
pendent witnesses report- 
ing much the same thing. 
For instance, at 12:05 a.m., 















a 19-year-old Texas Tech 
freshman said he was driv- 
ing his car nine miles east 
of Levelland when the motor 
suddenly "started cutting 
out like it was out of gas." 
The headlights dimmed, 
then went out altogether 
after the ear rolled to a stop. 
The student raised the 
hood but could find nothing 
obviously wrong with the 
engine or electrical wiring. 
Returning to the driver's 
seat, he now noticed an 
egg-shaped object, flat on 
the bottom, sitting astride 
the highway in front of him. 
It glowed bluish-green, he 
reported, and looked to be 
125 feet long and made of 
an aluminumlike material 
with no visible details or 
markings. Frightened, he 
tried turning the motor over 
again, but the car would not 
start. Shortly, the UFO rose 
"almost straight up," disap- 
pearing "in a split instant." 
He tried the ignition again; 
the car started, and the lights 
came on, and he drove 
home, although he did not 
report the incident to 
Fowler — "for fear of ridi- 
cule" — until the following 
afternoon, after his parents 
told him he should. 

Nationwide, the Levelland 
sightings garnered almost 
as much press attention as 
the new Soviet satellite, 
eventually forcing the Air 
Force's Project Blue Book 
to send an investigator to 
the site. (Project Blue Book, 
first under the auspices oi 
the Air Technical Intelli- 
gence Center, or ATIC, and 

later run out of the Foreign 
Technology Division, was the 
official Air Force agency 
charged with investigating 
UFOs. Its immediate prede- 
cessors, also associated 
with the Air Force, were 
Project Sign, and Project 
Grudge.) According to the 
now-deceased astronomer 
J. Allen Hynek of Northwest- 
ern University, then Project 
Blue Book's scientific con- 
sultant, the Levelland inves- 
tigation, conducted by a 
member of the 1006th Air 
Intelligence Service Squad- 
ron (AISS) was cursory at 
best. Writing in his now- 
classic book, The UFO 
Experience (Henry Regnery 
Company, Chicago, 1972), 
Hynek states, "I was told 
that the Blue Book investi- 
gation consisted of the 
appearance of one man in 
civilian clothes at the sher- 
iff's office at about 1 1 :45 a.m. 
on November 5; he made 
two auto excursions during 
the day and then told Sheriff 
Clem that he was finished." 
According to Temple Uni- 
versity historian David 
Jacobs, author of another 
classic volume, The UFO 
Controversy in America 
(Indiana University Press, 
Bloomington, 1 975), "the 
officer failed to interview 
nine of the fifteen witnesses 
and also erroneously stated 
that lightning had been in 
the area at the time of the 
sightings." Indeed, the Air 
Force and Project Blue 
Book ultimately attributed the 
incidents to "weather phe- 
nomenon of [an] electrical 

nature, generally classified 
as "'ball lightning' or 'St. 
Elmo's fire,' caused by 
stormy conditions in the area, 
including mist, rain, thunder- 
storms, and lightning." The 
engine stalls and headlight 
failures? ■"Wet electrical cir-- 
cuits," said the Air Force. 
"Privately," Jacobs observes, 
"Blue Book officers be- 
lieved the Levelland sight- 
ings were obviously an ex- 
ample of mass suggestion." 

The upshot of the ball 
lightning pronouncement 
was an angry spate of criti- 
cisms by editorial writers and 
the growing legion of civil- 
ian UFO organizations, 
charging the Air Force with 
ignorance or incompetence 
at best and a purposeful 
cover-up of the UFO phe- 
nomenon at worst. The out- 
rage was exacerbated when 
500 more UFO cases poured 
into Project Blue Book over 
the next couple of months, 
making it the most explo- 
sive. UFO year since 1952. 

In response to all the 
brouhaha, the Air Force 
launched an investigation 
of its own UFO operation. 
The recommendation? That 
some 20 men be assigned 
to a UFO detail. What's more, 
suggested the Air Technical 
Intelligence Center at Wright- 
Patterson Air Force Base in 
Dayton, Ohio, where the 
study was done, the Air 
Force would do well to cre- 
ate a standard UFO kit con- 
taining an operating proce- 
dure manual and other tools 
necessary for investigating 
the mysterious, alleged craft. 

That way, when the 20 UFO 
experts went out on assign- 
ment, there would be no 
more foolish errors. They'd 
know what to do. 

The report also recom- 
mended that She Air Force 
investigate press reports 
and not just those reaching 
Project Blue Book through 
direct channels, including 
Air Force pilots or radar 
operators. It was assumed 
that such actions might de- 
flect civilian criticism and at 
the same time drastically 
reduce the number of re- 
ports classified "unknown" 
or "insufficient data." In- 
deed, as of November 1958, 
these two categories were 
accounting for 20 percent 
of all UFO reports received 
to date. 

Unfortunately, the staff 
recommendations were 
never implemented. The 
notion of a UFO tool kit was 
quickly quashed, along with 
any idea of a rapid deploy- 
ment team. Instead, Project 
Blue Book limped along 
much as it had before, under- 
staffed and underfunded. 
Press clippings were stuffed 
into boxes and later thrown 
away. Letters and reports 
from the general public 
generally went unanswered 
and uninvestigated. 

Even so, from the sum- 
mer of 1947 until December 
19, 1969, Air Force repre- 
sentatives amassed 12,618 
official case reports of UFOs, 
defined by the Air Force as 
"any aerial object or phe- 
nomenon which [he observ- 
er is unable to identify." 








(Hynek would later amend 
the definition of a UFO to 
refer to any flying objects 
which "remain unidentified 
after close scrutiny of all 
available evidence by per- 
sons who are technically 
capable of making a com- 
mon-sense identification, if 
one is possible.") Of the 
12,000-plus cases studied, 
701, or almost 6 percent, 
were classified "unknown." 

Those cases, that were 
investigated — like Level- 
land — were typically looked 
into lackadaisically when 
they were looked into at all. 
The Air Force also indulged 
in a little creative bookkeep- 
ing. Those cases classified 
as "probable" or "insuffi- 
cient data" were counted on 
the solved side of the ledger 
instead of the unsolved side, 
skewing the percentage of 
true unknowns. A growing 
number of critics contend- 
ed that, far from being an 
investigative agency. Project 
Blue Book amounted to little 
more than a public relations 
ploy, one designed to down- 
play the phenomenon's 
prevalence and possible 

Even Hynek himself was 
ultimately disillusioned by 
his experience as scientific 
consultant. "I can safely say 
that the whole time I was 
with the Air Force, we never 
had anything that resem- 
bled a really good scientific 
dialogue on the subject," 
he said shortly before his 
death in 1986. 

Project Blue Book's death 
knell was sounded in the 

spring of 1966, in the wake 
of another Air Force boon- 
doggle. At a press confer- 
ence in March of that year, 
Hynek attributed some 
intriguing Michigan sighlings 
to "swamp gas" — the spon- 
taneous ignition of meth- 
ane. The resulting editorial 
uproar pictured the Air Force 
team more as buffoons 
than villains. If the ball light- 
ning and mass hysteria 
explanation of almost a dec- 
ade earlier had been the 
first straw in the public's neg- 
ative perception of the Air 
Force's handling of UFO 
investigations, swamp gas 
was the straw that broke the 
camel's back. 

Before the decade was 
up, the Air Force would be 
out of the UFO business for 
good. One driving force: a 
controversial University of 
Colorado study directed by 
physicist Edward U. Condon. 
Condon's largely negative 
report summary concluded 
that chasing UFOs was a 
waste of time. Indeed, UFOs 
seemed shrouded in secre- 
cy, Condon declared, only 
because the Air Force re- 
sisted "premature publica- 
tion of incomplete studies 
of reports." 

Thrilled by Condon's pub- 
licized pronouncements — 
few reporters were about to 
wade through a 9 65- page 
report in search of any UFO 
gems — the Air Force seized 
the offered brass ring. On 
December 17, 1969, in the 
wake of the Colorado/ 
Condon study, Secretary of 
the Air Force Robert C. 

Seamans, Jr., announced 
the closure of Project Blue 
Book, saying that its contin- 
uance "cannot be justified 
either on the ground of 
national security or in the 
interest of science." 

Hynek was one of sever- 
al scientists who saw the 
situation differently. "When 
the long-awaited solution to 
the UFO problem comes," 
he said, "i believe that it will 
prove to be not merely the 
next small step in the march 
of science, but a mighty 
and totally unexpected 
quantum jump." 

A Civilian Blue Book? 
With the Air Force out of the 
picture since 1969, the bur- 
den of investigating the 
UFO phenomenon has 
largely fallen on the shoul- 
ders of individuals and a 
handful of civilian UFO 
organizations. While indi- 
viduals are hardly hampered 
by bureaucratic rules, pub- 
lic relations considerations, 
and other policy require- 
ments, they can only do so 
much on their own. More- 
over, the weight of their 
public pronouncements is 
linked, directly or indirectly, 
to their personal and pro- 
fessional credentials. It's 
•one thing for an established 
astronomer, such as Hynek, 
to speak out about the phe- 
nomenon in general; it's 
another thing altogether for, 
say, an advertising execu- 
tive or fast-food clerk to claim 
that Earth is being invaded 
by genetic engineers from 
another planet or galaxy. 

The same is also true of 
UFO organizations, which 
are only as good and effi- 
cient as their collective mem- 
bers. One overripe member 
may not 'spoil the whole 
barrel, but he or she can 
certainly detract from the 
overall respectability of the 
subject by his or her unbri- 
dled comments about whai 
the UFO phenomenon does 
or does not ultimately mean. 
As Hynek and others have 
been quick to point out, the 
U in UFO stands for "Un- 
identified," not necessarily 
for extraterrestrial space- 
ships and alien abductors 
in that order. All three may 
or may not be related. 
Some UFOs, however, are 
almost certainly unrecog- 
nized or little understood 
natural phenomena, swamp 
gas and ball lightning very 
possibly included. 

The one undeniable truth 
about the UFO phenome- 
non — Air Force pronounce- 
ments aside — is that further 
investigation is still required. 
According to one Gallup 
Poll, some 15 million adult 
Americans have at one time 
or another in their lives wit- 
nessed what they believed 
to be a UFO. Compare that 
figure with the 12,618 UFO 
reports the Air Force col- 
lected over 22 years, extra- 
polate it worldwide, and It's 
painfully clear that the UFO 
phenomenon represents 
both the most prevalent and 
underreported anomalous 
phenomena of this or any 
other century. Even if UFOs 
aren't a three.-dimensional, 

solid, physical object, any 
student of human psychol- 
ogy or sociology worth his 
or he'r salt should be suit- 
ably intrigued as to. why 
humans continue to report 
UFOs in vast numbers in 
the absence of any unusual 
stimuli. To say that the best 
interests of science will not 
be served by further study 
of the UFO phenomenon — 
in ail its myriad, mysterious 
ma "i : testations — is to say 
that science should con- 
cern itself only with things 
humans don't .do, as one of 
the things they do do is 
report UFOs— even in the 
face of peer and public ridi- 
cule for doing so. if human 
behavior isn't of scientific 
interest, then we might as 
Well drop the soft science 
o'sciplines of anthropology, 
percspxal psychology, and 
social interaction from the 
academic curriculum. 

In installments to follow, 
Omni will provide you with 
the UFO tool kit the Air 
Force never produced. The 
Project Open Book tool kit 
will allow you to conduct 
your own investigation of the 
persistent UFO phenome- 
non. It will contain tips and 
techniques about locating 
and classifying UFO reports. 
It will tell you, precisely, how 
to investigate UFO reports. 
And, it will tell you how to 
report and then investigate 
a sighting of your own. 
You'll learn how to interview 
witnesses, how to collect 
physical evidence (where 
indicated), and how to sniff 
out potential -hoaxes. You'll 

be instructed in the finer arts 
. of audio- and photographic 
analysis, both still and video. 
And you will be provided with 
the names and numbers of 
information sources, both 
print and electronic. Hope- 
fully, when your own research 
is done, you'll share it with 
your colleagues. Collectively, 
we may be able to da what 
the Air Force couldn't. 

Overcoming the Ridicule 

In order to investigate' a UFO 
case, you must, of course, 
first find one. Despite the 
perceived plethora of sight- 
ings, this is not always -as 
easy as it "seems. For one 
thing, the overwhelming 
majority of UFO sightings are ■ 
never reported, The reason 
for this reluctance is fairly 
straightforward: fear of ridi- 
cule. Hynek lamented this 
situation in a letter written to 
the magazine, Physics 
Today, in which he solicited 
UFO reports from scientifi- 
cally trained observers. "It 
has been my estimate over 
the past 20 years," Hynek 
noted, "that for every UFO 
report made, there were at 
least 10 that went unreport- 
ed. Evidence for this comes 
from the Gallup Poll, the 
many UFO reports I subse- 
quently learned of that were 
not reported to the Air Force, 
and from my own queries. 
There has always been a 
great reluctance to report in 
the face of almost certain 
ridicule. It would seem that 
the more trained and sophis- 
ticated "the observer, the 

less prone he is to report 
unless he could be assured 
of anonymity as well as 
respect for his report." 

Many respondents only 
reinforced Hynek's fears. 
One report, from a man who 
is now a professional astron- 
omer, had gone unreported 
for 11 years, precisely be- 
cause of a reluctance to face 
ridicule or embarrassment 
by peers— and this despite 
the fact that his own sight- 
ing was corroborated by sev- 
eral other credible witness- 
es, including at least two 
police officers. 

In the summer of 1960, 
near Walkerton, Ontario, the 
story went, the man had ob- 
served a ball of light hover- 
ing near a tree. As he and 
several of his relatives 
approached to take a picture, 
"it noticed us, and noise- 
lessly accelerating at a very 
high rate, headed almost 
directly south, disappearing 
over the horizon in about 
two and a half seconds." 

Yet another astronomer 
had failed to report a perti- 
nent observation out of 
embarrassment as well. To 
sustain his self image as the 
ultimate scientist, he "pre- 
ferred to regard his sighting 
as being of an unusual- 
physical phenomenon," 
according to Hynek, "rather 
than admit the possibility, 
perhaps even to himself, 
that it was a genuinely new 
empirical observation." 

Given the embarrassment 
that seizes the best, most 
respectable UFO witness- 
es, any investigator worth 

his or her salt must learn to 
cope with the "ridicule' fac- 
tor" before an investigation 
in earnest can begin. But 
given the right circum- 
stances, the right individual, 
and the right approach, the 
curtain of ridicule can be 
overcome, as the large re- 
sponse to Hynek's letter in 
Physics Today clearly indi- 
cates. For this to happen, 
the witness/reporter must 
■ have confidence in his or her 
confidante, as Physics Today 
respondents clearly did in 
Hynek after seeing his cre- 
dentials. Even with such con- 
fidence, moreover, the UFO 
witness often must still be 
drawn out. Few of those 
embarrassed by a close 
encounter, after all, will vol- 
unteer the information un- 
less asked to do-so, 

Given the ridicule factor, 
the UFO hunter in search of 
a case to investigate must 
follow two basic rules; First, 
to learn about someone's 
UFO experience, it's best to 
ask. Even a lifelong friend 
may be reluctant to broach 
the subject of a UFO sight- 
ing unless drawn out. And 
second, when you do ask, 
as*, nose who have the most 
confidence in you — your 
family members and clos- 
est friends. A complete 
stranger is likely to react with 
serious reservation when 
anc:rer stranger arrives sud- 
denly on his doorstep, ask- 
ing questions about UFOs. 
(The stranger the UFO expe- , 
rience this subject has had, 
moreover, the higher his or 
her resistance will be.) 

An example from my own 
experience may be instruc- 
tive. In the early 1 980s, I was 
hired to write- a weekly col- 
umn for the San Antonio 
Express-News about unusual 
events that had taken place 
in the state of Texas over 
the years. The first six months 
or so went well enough, but 
hevraoly the scramble for 
material, or at least signifi- 
cantly different material, set 
in. By October (the series 
had begun the previous 
December), I was asking 
friends and acquaintances — 
except for "Rudy" — if any- 
thing strange or unusual had 
ever happened to them. 

My reasons for not ask- 
ing Rudy were obvious. He 
taught history at a local' 
community college, and the 
shelves of his personal library 
in a prominent neighborhood 
on the north side of town 
were overburdened with 
straight literature, including 
some 10,000 historical biog- 
raphies. I had worked with 
him on several occasions 
and was well aware of his 
disdain for anything unusu- 
al — typified by his attitudes 
toward mysticism, astrolo- 
gy,, and anything else that 
remotely smacked of the 
occult. I assumed this would 
naturally include flying 
saucers and UFOs, too. But 
I also knew that he had been 
a B-24 bombardier during 
World War II and the hey- 
day of the so-called "foo- 
flghter" phenomenon, in 
which glowing balls of light 
had perplexed both Allied 
and Axis aircrews during the 

closing nights of the war. 

On the extremely remote 
possibility that he might 
have encountered a foo- 
fighter, I asked Rudy if any- 
thing strange had ever hap- 
pened to him during his fly- 
ing days in the war. "No, 
nothing ever did," he said 
matte r-of-factty, and that, I 
assumed, was naturally that. 
After a brief pause, though, 
he said, "but last Novem- 
ber, I was driving backfrom 
Austin . . .," and promptly 
launched into his personal 
UFO story. Rudy had a sis- 
ter who lived in Austin, 75 
miles north of San Antonio 
on Interstate Highway 35, 
whom he frequently visited. ' 
He had been returning to 
San Antonio alone late one 
night, probably after Thanks- 
giving, and was just south 
of New Braunfels, about 20 
miles from his own home. 
The sky was overcast, with 
a ceiling of about a thousand 
feet, and traffic on the high- 
way was relatively light, al- 
though there were other 
cars and trucks in both the 
north- and southbound lanes 
of the four-lane highway. 

■Rudy first became aware 
of something visible in the 
upper portion of his wind- 
shield, but continued driv- 
ing while leaning forward 
to look up through the curved 
gtess. To his amazement, 
he told me, what looked like 
a flying saucer flew into view, 
traveling slowly southward 
and directly over the right- 
hand lane he was in. He 
pulled off onto the shoul- 
der — the only car to do so — 

stopped, and stepped out- 
side for a better view. 

The object was under- 
neath the overcast, proba- 
bly 800 or 900 feet over- 
head. "I can see it clear as 
daylight now," he said, a 
year after the fact. "It was 
perfectly circular and just 
under 100 feet in diameter. 
The outer rim consisted of a 
broad flange divided into 
what might be flaps or at 
least individual segments. 
An antenna hung down from 
the middle of the object, 
and the central portion, the 
area inside the flaps or 
flanges, slowly rotated on 
its own axis as the whole 
continued southward down 
the highway." 

A short distance away, 
Rudy told me, the vehicle 
initiated a sharp U-turn and 
started back up the north 
side of the highway, slowly 
rising as it did. Eventually it 
entered the clouds and dis- 
appeared from view. Rudy 
waited a few more minutes 
to see if it would reappear. 
When it didn't, he got in his 
car and drove home. "AN 
the way home," he said, "I 
kept thinking. Well, that's it. 
I'll get up in. the morning 
and the headline will read 
'UFO Mystery Solved!'" But 
if anyone else had seen or 
reported Rudy's UFO it cer- 
tainly wasn't in the San 
Antonio papers, and it was 
almost certainly nothing 
Rudy himself would ever 
bring up in casual cocktail 
or coffee conversation unless 
directly confronted. 

Almost as remarkable as 









the sighting itself, perhaps, 
was Rudy's reaction to it. 
True, it was unusual and 
unexpected, apparently a 
flying craft of technology 
radically different from his 
old B-24 Liberator— but also 
nothing to lose a night's sleep 
over. Class was tomorrow 
night, and life went on. Be- 
sides, who does the aver- 
age citizen call to report a 
UFO, especially when that 
UFO has already disap- 
peared into the clouds? 

' One might say, then, that 
the UFO investigation begins 
at home. Ask your' parents, 
your husband or wife, your ■ 
aunts and uncles, your 
cousins, your neighbors and 
acquaintances. Many of 
these cases may only be 
anecdotal; others may in- 
volve data — such as the 
names of other witnesses 
and a possible paper trail — 
that can be used to fill in 
and corroborate the histori- 
cal record, if nothing else. 

If the witness you wish to 
approach is a total stranger, 
we suggest you do so with 
kid gloves. It would help if 
you had some creden- 
tials — say, a few UFO" cases 
you have investigated in the 
past — to boost your credi- 
bility. Otherwise, you should 
utilize what, in the vernacu- 
lar of the Nineties, we call 
"networking." For instance, 
if a friend has witnessed 
something unusual, and then 
refers you to a second wit- 
ness, the second witness, 
knowing your connection to 
the case, may be more will- 
ing to talk. Above all, do not 

approach potential wilnoss- 
. es, especially strangers, 
with theones.involving aliens 
and extraterrestrial ships. 
You will be far more likely to 
gain confidence if you say, 
simply, "I understand the 
other night you witnessed 
something a bit out of the 
ordinary. I've been collect- 
ing some information on this 
and wonder if I could speak 
to you as well.'' (This will be. 
covered in greater detail in 
an upcoming chapter on 
interviewing witnesses.) 

UFOsin Print 

If you find it hard to get your 
leads from people, you may 
be interested to learn that a 
countless variety of fascinat- 
ing cases — most merely re- 
ported but not thoroughly in- 
vestigated—are described 
in print. Coverage of UFO 
sightings by the nation's ma- 
jor daily newspapers tends 
to vary widely, depending on 
whether or not UFQs are in 
vogue at a particular time. 
A. much more consistent 
source of UFO sighting re- 
ports is the small communi- 
ty daily or weekly newspa- 
per. So many sightings have 
been reported in the Gulf 
Breeze, Florida, area in 
recent years, for example, 
that the local paper, The 
Islander {P.O. Box 292, Gulf 
Breeze, Florida 32562) has 
been offering mail subscrip- 
tions to investigators. ' 

Another excellent source 
of current'UFO sightings in 
localities around the United 
States is the U.F.O. News- 
clipping Service, edited and 

published by Lucius Parish, 
Route 1, Box 220, Plumer- 
ville, Arkansas 72127. Each 
20-page issue consists of 
copies of newspaper clip- 
pings submitted by Farish's 
far-flung web of correspon- 
dents and clippers. It regu- 
larly includes Canadian and 
English newspaper clip- 
pings, as well as articles 
translated from foreign-lan- 
guage papers. 

Numerous annual national 
and regional UFO confer- 
ences also provide a rich 
source of contemporary re- 
ports — and often the origi- 
nal witnesses themselves. 
To find out about local con- 
ferences and newsletters 
which may alert you to cases 
open for investigation in 
. your area, you may contact: 

The Mutual UFO Network 
of Seguin, Texas. MUFON 
holds an annual sympo- 
sium every July; this year's 
will be in Seattle. For more 
information, write interna- 
tional director Walter Andrus, 
Jr.,atMUFON, TO30ldtowne 
Road, Seguin, Texas 78155- ' 
4099. For other case mater- 
ial, you can subscribe to 
the MUFON UFO Journal. 

The J. Allen Hynek Center 
for UFO Studies, 2457 West 
Peterson Avenue, Chicago, 
Illinois 60659. The center 
also publishes the annual 
Journal of UFO Studies and 
the bi-monthly International 
UFO Reporter. 

The nonprofit Fund for 
UFO Research at Box 277. 
Mount Rainier, Maryland 
20712, which sells copies of 
its reports. 











Finally, for those of you 
online, the Internet is a great 
place to learn of UFO sight- 
ings in your area, As you 
traipse from one bulletin 
board to the next, you will 
read the postings of local 
residents whose stories have 
never been reported before. 
You can correspond with- 
these wilnesses through E- 
mail, gathering potentially 
interesting data, possibly 
discovering a case you feel 
is worth further investment 
of your time. 

Blast from the Past 

If you can't find a suitable 
case in periodical literature, 
at conferences, or online, 
more'over, you might try dig- 
ging around in the past. 
"Consult your local library 
or the major archives," ad- 
vises Jan Aldrich, a UFO 
researcher recently retired 
from the military. "You'll 
probably be surprised by the 
treasure trove of uninvesti- 
gated cases." 

With a grant from the 
Maryland-based Fund for 
UFO Research, Aldrich is 
presently re-examining UFO 
press clippings from the 
year 1947, popularly per- 
ceived by the public as the 
year the modern UFO era 
began, following the sight- 
ing by pilot Kenneth Arnold 
of nine silvery, crescent- 
shaped objects near Mount 
Rainier, Washington, on 
June 24, 1947. 

Much of Aldrich's pres- 
ent work replicates, an ear- 
lier 1967 study done by 
investigator Ted Bloecher 

while with the now-defunct 
National Investigations Com- 
mittee on Aerial Phenomena. 
Bloecher's "Report on the 
UFO Wave of 1947" was, 
essentially, a collection and 
analysis of press clippings 
demonstrating that Arnold 
was hardly alone in his expe- 
rience; In fact, UFOs were 
being seen and reported in 
large numbers up and 
down the country, from 
Washington to Maine. 

But Aldrich's. ongoing 
investigation delves even 
further. "Good as Bloechers 
study was," says Aldrich, "it 
wasn't complete. For exam- 
ple, he didn't include .any 
newspapers from Montana 
or from many provinces in 

By examining the-Helena, 
Montana, Independent 
Record, Aldrich discovered 
that a local flurry of UFO 
sightings was just getting 
underway, even as the 
national flap spurred by 
Arnold's sighting- was fad- 
ing in other areas of the 
country. Aldrich also dis- 
covered that UFOs contin- 
ued to be- reported in 
Canada in great numbers. 
"In fact," he notes,' "the 
Canadian wave was even 
more pronounced in terms 
of population density than 
what was happening in the 
United States." 

From a microfilm copy of 
Project Blue Book files 
scheduled to be des:r:::ye:J 
but inadvertently discov- 
ered at the last minute by a 
university researcher, Aldrich 
was able to locate another 

unpublished discovery; 
2,000 to 3,000 letters written 
by U.S. citizens in the wake 

of an April 1952 article about 
UFOs by Bob Ginna pub- 
lished in Life magazine. "Blue 
Book was swamped at the 
time," says Aldrich. "and 
then-director Edward Ruppelt 
apparently didn't care 
about the letters or trying to 
follow them up. They were 
j.jsl slutted into a file, which, 
fortunately, someone put on 
microfilm." The majority of 
the letters, says Aldrich, 
consist of individual theo- 
ries or explanations for the 
UFO phenomenon, "but 
about 20 percent were per- 
sonal case reports, the ear- 
liest dating back to 1913." 

Interestingly, letters, ad- 
dressed simply "Flying 
Saucers, Washington, DC," 
eventually found their way 
into the file, in toto, the let- 
ters indicate that, while 
Arnold may have gotten the 
headlines and generated 
the furor, the UFO phenom- 
enon itself was arguably 
around much earlier. It also 
proves that one individual, 
armed with nothing more 
than a microfilm reader, can 
still make a difference In our 
eventual understanding of 
what may well be one- of 
this century's most misun- 
derstood mysteries. 

Choosing Your Case 
As a UFO investigator, you 
will soon find that, with the 
right approach and the 

right reading material, you 
will unearth endless in- 
stances of reported UFOs. 

But the truth of the matter 
is, not all reports are-creat- 
ed equal. For instance, you 
may want to delve into .the 
past, but if all the witnesses 
to a given sighting have 
died, and if there is little 
documentation, there may 
not be much you can do. A 
UFO reported by your friend, 
a college student', while 
drunk and staring at the 
stars, is not as compelling as 
a UFO reported by three sepT 
arate individuals — such as 
a policeman, an astronomy 
professor, and a teacher — 
while stone sober. If the sec- 
ond UFO has left any phys- 
ical evidence — from a burnt 
area of land to some blips 
on the airport's rada'r 
screen — so' much the better. 

As you hunt down UFO 
cases you wish to investi- 
gate, you will also find it is 
better to pursue those clos- 
er to-home. Indeed, a thor- 
ough UFO investigation is 
time-intensive. It often re- 
quires multiple interviews 
with multiple witnesses. You 
may need tovisit the site of 
the report at various times 
of the day and year, some- 
times with specialists in 
tow. What's more, the input 
of those well versed in locat 
habits, history, geography', 
and atmospheric phenom- 
ena may be invaluable to 
your research; 

For instance, a few years 
back, hundreds of witness- 
es reported a weird, boom- 
erang-shaped UFO over 
Westchester County and 
other parts of New York, it 
later turned out that at least 

some of the reports were 
made when pilot-hoaxers 
using a local airport in the 
town of Stormville decided 
to fly in boomerang forma- 
tion. Someone making a 
few phone calls from London 
could not have learned 
about the hoax as easily — if 
at all— as the local investi- 
gators on the scene who 
ultimately did. The take- 
home message is this: If 
you live in New Jersey, it 
makes more sense to 
investigate cases in New- 
ark or Asbury Park than in 
Santa Barbara. 

Starting a File 
This chapter has given you 
enough material to get 
started. We suggest that 
you empty a file drawer, get 
a few folders out, and start 
collecting. We'd like you to 
spend the next few weeks 
just keeping your eyes and 
ears open. Speak to friends 
and relatives. Read the 
local paper. Scour the Inter- 
net. Anytime something of 
interest enters your field of 
vision, Clip it, load it onto a 
djsk, or jot it down, and put 
it in your drawer. 

At the end of this period, 
you may have a case — a 
completely original case, 
never before investigated 
by anyone — you feel is wor- 
thy of your time and effort. 

Next month, in the sec- 
ond installment of the Omni 
Open Book Field inves- 
tigators Guide, we'll provide 
you with some tools of the 
trade, so your own inves- 
tigation may begin. DQ 

Anyone hoping to investi- 
gate UFOs must, of course, 
keep track of research that 
has gone before. The best 
sources are those classics 
of UFO literature that tell 
the story of this controver- 
sial field, often in the 
words of the researchers 
who know it best. 

UFO books vary widely 
in quality and reliability from 
sober, reflective studies 
such as Hynek's Experi- 
ence, to the self-promoting 
personal anecdotes typi- 
fied by the early coniactee 
■movement of the 1950s. 

Any list of the best UFO ' 
books is highly subjective. 
Here, however, are 11 UFO 
classics recommended for 
any UFO investigator seek- 
ing the right reference tools. 

1. The Report on Un- 
identified Flying Objects by 
Edward J. Ruppelt (Double- 
day, New York, 1956). For 
many of today's mainstream 
UFOIogists, interest in the 
phenomenon was proba- 
bly sparked by a reading 
of Captain Ruppelt, who 
was the acting head of the 
Air Force's Project Blue 
Book from 1951 to 1953. 
Widely available in used- 
book stores and libraries, 
Report was published in 
two controversial versions. 
The first edition ends with 
Chapter 17, "What Are 
UFOs?," and Ruppelt s own 
response, "Only time will 
tell." Subsequent editions 
contain three additional 
chapters in which Ruppelt 
seems to recant his earlier 
siance and casts doubt on 

the phenomenon as one of 
extraterrestrial origin, 

2. The UFO Controversy 
in America by David 
Michael Jacobs (Indiana 
University Press, Bloom- 
ington, 1975). A Temple Uni- 
versity professor of history, 
Dr. Jacobs' Controversy 
remains one of the few 
purely historical treatments 
of the subject as it exam- 
ines how UFOs were ap- 
proached by the American- 
press, government, and 
public. Jacobs' most recent 
book is a study of UFO ab- 
duction cases, Secret Life 
(Simon & Schuster, New 
York, 1992). 

3. The UFO Experience 
by Dr. J. Allen Hynek 
(Henry Regnery Company, 
Chicago, 1972). For 22 
years, until its closure in 
'1969, astronomer Hynek 
served as a scientific con- 
sultant to Project Blue Book. 
Experience is a thoughtful 
account of hisown experi- 
ences and gradual awak- 
ening and also an exami- 
nation of the UFO phe- 
nomenon more or less in 
its entirety: It's here that 
Hynek first uses the mar- 
quee phrase "close en-, 
counters of the third kind." 

4. Anatomy of a Phe- 
nomenon by Jacques 
Vallee (Henry Regnery 
Company, Chicago, 1965). 
A colleague of Hynek's, 
Vallee remains one of the 
field's most original and 
prolific thinkers, although 
some of his most recent 
work has fallen out of favor 
with the hardcore UFO 

crowd. In Anatomy, how- 
ever, and again in Chal- 
lenge to Science: The UFO. 
Enigma, (Henry Regnery, 
1966), co-authored with 
wife Janine, Vallee is in fine 
phenomenological form. 

5. Passport to Magonia: 
From Folklore to Flying 
Saucers by Jacques Vallee 
(Henry Regnery Company, 
Chicago, 1969). One of the 
more controversial .books 
within UFOIogy as it posits 
parallels with the observed 
UFO phenomenon and 
various past legends and 
lore associated with the 
"fairy folk" and other non- 
human entities. Raises 
many questions, especial- 
ly about UFO abductions, 
which remain unanswered. 

6. The UFO Encyclo- 
pedia, Volumes 1 and 2, by 
Jerome' Clark (Omnigraph- 
ics, Detroit, 1990, 1992). 
Clark's impressive and mas- 
sive UFO survey is more 
up to date and more com- 
prehensive than preced- 
ing UFO encyclopedias. A 
third volume, High Strange- 
ness, is expected to be 
available this year. 

7. Scientific Study of 
Unidentified Flying Objects, 
edited by Daniel S. Gil-' 
moor (Bantam Books. New 
York, 1969). The complete 
text of the controversial Uni- 
versity of Colorado, Boulder, 
study directed by physi- 
cist Edward U. 'Condon un- 
der contract to the Air 
Force. Turgid and tedious 
in parts, but still an indis- 
pensable reference book. 

8. Observing UFOs by 

Richard F, Haines (Nelson- 
Hall, Chicago, 1980), A for- 
mer perceptual psycholo- 
gist with NASA's Ames 
Research Center, Haines 
focuses here on perception, 
particularly the peculiari- 
ties of our visual field and 
sense of time, as related to 
the observation of anom- 
alous aerial phenomena. 

9. Project Blue Book, 
edited by Brad Steiger 
(Baliantine Books, New York, 
1976). A wildly miscella- 
neous grab-bag of odds 
and ends drawn mostly 
from official (and declassi- 
iied) Air Force Project Blue 
Book files, including a list 
of those cases classified 
"unknown." Contains much 
original source material 
found nowhere else. 

10. The Interrupted 
Journey by John G. Fuller 
(Dell, New York,-1987). The 
book that first introduced 
the UFO abduction phe- 
nomenon to the public, this 
volume, first published in 
1966, examines the case 
of Betty and Barney- Hill, 
who experienced a UFO 
close' encounter which re- 
sulted in nearly fwo hours 
of alleged missing time. 

11. Missing Time by 
Budd Hopkins (Richard 
Marek Publishers, New 
York, 1981). Hopkins is an 
abstract artist widely rec- 
ognized as the leading 
proponent of the genetic- 
engineering theory of 'UFO 
abductions. A pioneer in 
UFO abduction research, 
he gives his theories in this 
controversial volume. DO 

Investigator: Dennis Stacy, 
journalist and editor of the 
MUFON UFO Journal, who 
has made three separate 
visits to Mexico in pursuit 
of this case during the past 
four years, most recently 
in September 1994. (Stacy's 
investigative aides include 
Tom Deuley, formerly 
assigned to the National 
Security Agency and the 
administrative assistant to 
the Mutual UFO Network 
of Seguin, Texas, who 
accompanied Stacy on 
each of the three trips; Elia 
Maldonado of Guerrero, 
who served as translator; 
and Enrique Ceverra, for- 
mer mayor of Guerrero.) 

Central Event: The alleged 

crash and subsequent 
recovery of a UFO by a 
top-secret joint Mexican- 

American military operation 

Time: December 6, 1950 

Place: Along the Texas- 
Mexico border near the 

towns of EUndio, Texas, 
and Guerrero, Mexico" 

Ramifications: Aside from 
its own innate significance, 
the El Indio-Guerrero crash, 
if verified, would lend cre- 
dence to- .those .claiming 
an extraterrestrial or other- 
wise unconventional expla- 
nation for the famous Ros- 
well crash, which occurred 
in New Mexico sometime 
in late June or early July 
1947, It-would also bolster 
the case for the much- 
maligned MJ-12 docu- 
ments, said to prove that 
government experts have 
been hot in pursuit of UFOs 








since the 1950s; most UFO 
researchers now regard 
these documents as a 
clever hoax or ingenious 
exercise in disinformation, 
with possible ties to the Air 
Force Office of Special 
Intelligence, Kirtland Air 
Force Base, Albuquerque. 

Deep Background/The Ros- 
well Connection: Something 
crashed to the earth near 
Roswell, New Mexico-, in the 
summer of 1947. The Army 
Air Force admitted as much 
in the, form of a press re- 
lease which first appeared 
in local newspapers on 
Tuesday, July 8, 1947, and 
was widely reprinted 
around the world. "The 
many rumors regarding the 
flying discs became a 
reality yesterday," said the 
report, authorized by base 

commander Colonel William 
■H. Blanchard, "when the in- 
telligence office of the 509th 
Bomb Group of the Eighth 
Air Force, Roswell Army Air 
Field, was fortunate enough 
to gain possession of a disc 
through the cooperation of 
one of the local ranchers 
and the sheriff's office of 
Chaves County." 

Later that same after- 
noon, however. Eighth Air 
Force commander Brig- 
adier General Roger Ramey 
called a press conference 
at Carswell Field, Fort Worth, 
Texas, to announce that 
what was really recovered 
was an ordinary weather 
balloon. During the inter- 
vening years, many UFO 
advocates pushed an extra- 
terrestrial interpretation of 
the crash. And finally, on 
September 8, 1994 in re- 
sponse to a General 
Accounting Office inquiry 
into Roswell launched by 
New Mexico Republican 
Congressman Steve Schifl. 
the Air Force attributed the 
original Roswell object to 
Project Mogul, a top-secret 
balloon project it said was 
designed to monitor Soviet 
nuclear bomb tests. 

As we pursue the truth 
behind the El Indio story, 
our questions are straight- 
forward. What, if anything, 
did happen on December 
6, 1950, and how, if at all, 
was this possible event 
related to the crash at 
Roswell. Whatever the ori- 
gin of the Roswell crash, is 
the incident reported at El 
Indio in some way related? 

Deep Background /The MJ- 
12 Connection: The sug- 
gestion that a second UFO 
might have crashed and 
been retrieved by the same 
recovery team employed at 
Roswell first arrived anony- 
mously in the mail at the 
home of Hollywood produc- 
er Jaime Shandera in De- 
cember 1984. Postmarked 
Albuquerque, the package 
contained a single roll of 
undeveloped 35mm black 
and white film. When devel- 
oped, the film revealed 
eight pages of what pur- 
ported to be a top-secret 
report. Dated November 
18, 1952, the report itself 
claimed to be a UFO brief- 
ing paper prepared by the 
outgoing Truman adminis- 
tration for the recently elect- 
ed Dwight David Eisen- 
hower. It described the cre- 
ation of the Majestic-12 
group, composed of ^high- 
level military and intelligence 
officials, along with civilian 
scientists, to oversee the 
investigation and analysis of 
the UFO phenomenon, and 
it even referred to the Ros- 
well crash by name. What's 
more, the report referred to 
Ellndio: "On 06 December, 
1950, a second object, 
probably of similar origin, 
impacted the earth at high 
speed in the El Indio- 
Guerrero area of the Texas- 
Mexico border after follow- 
ing a long trajectory through 
the atmosphere," the papers 
proclaimed. "By the time a 
search team arrived, what 
remained of the object had 
been almost totally inciner- 



6. 1950 ALONG THE 















ated. Such material as could 
be recovered was trans- 
ported to the AEC (Atomic 
Energy Commission) facility- 
at Sandia, New Mexico, for 
further study." 

The Air Force, along with 
most. UFO researchers, has 
denounced the so-called 
MJ-12 papers as a hoax or 
a scam. 

But bogus or not, we felt 
the reference to a crash 
along the Rio Grande be- 
tween Texas and Mexico 
was worth looking into. 
Obviously, if the incident 
could be confirmed, then at 
least some of the content, if 
not the whole, of the MJ-12 
document would be veri- 
fied. Such verification would 
tend to support those claim- 
ing an extraterrestrial or 
unconventional explanation 
for Roswell, as well as 
charges, long made by some 
UFOIogists, of an ongoing 
government UFO cover-up. 

By the same token, if the 
El Indio-Guerrero crash 
could be disproved, it would 
support the Air Force claim 
that the documents are in- 
deed bogus and that the 
Roswell crash was just a 
weather balloon or some- 
thing equally mundane. 

Either way, investigating 
the El Indio report could 
help shed light on the anony- 
mous author of any Majestic 
hoax. Who, after all, had 
even heard of El Indio (pop- 
ulation less than 100) and 
Guerrero in any context? 
The former is so small that it 
isn't marked on most Texas 
highway maps. 

Early Evidence for a Crash 
at El Indio: Shortly after the 
MJ-12 papers were first 
made public in 1987, Tom 
Deuley began a review of 
the case. One tantalizing 
clue came from nuclear 
physicist Stanton Friedman, 
author of Crash at Corona, 
a book about Roswell. 
Friedman, virtually alone in 
the UFO community in his 
support of the MJ-12 papers, 
wielded the Freedom of 
Information Act to procure 
a previously classified com- 
munique from a field agent 
named Auerbach (first name 
not given)- in Richmond, 
Virginia, to FBI director J. 
Edgar Hoover, dated Decem- 
ber 3, 1950. 

According to Auerbach, 
of the Counter Intelligence 
Corps, his office had been 
asked to stay attuned to 
"any data on flying 
saucers." Any information, 
the memo added, would be 
telephoned, immediately, 
to Air Force Intelligence. 
Although the date was 
theoretically "wrong" for El 
Indio — December 3 in- 
stead of 6 — the coinci- 
dence, if that's what it was, 
was intriguing. 

The second piece of evi- 
dence was another declas- 
sified document found in 
the National Archives by 
Don Berliner, a board mem- 
ber of the Mary land -based 
Fund for UFO Research 
and co-author of the Corona 
book with Friedman. Pre- 
viously stamped "Confi- 
dential," this six-paragraph 
memorandum for the Secre- 

tary of Defense from 
Colonel Charles B. Winkle, 

assistant executive, direc- 
torate of plans, announced 
an air alert effective as of 
1030 hours. According to 
Winkle, "The ConAC Air 
Defense Controller notified' 
the Headquarters USAF 
Command Post that at 1 030 
hours a number of unidenti- 
■fied aircraft were approach- 
ing the northeast area of 
the United States and that 
there was no reason to 
believe the aircraft were 
friendly." By 1040 hours, 40 
aircraft at an altitude of- 
32,000 feet were confirmed 
by radar in the vicinity of 
Limestone, Maine. Winkle 
added that President Tru- 
man had been notified and 
interceptors scrambled. By 
1104 hours, the situation 
was apparently defused, 
Winkle noted that "the orig- 
inal track had faded out, 
and it appears that the 
flight as originally identified 
is a friendly flight." The date. 
was 6 December 1950. 

Truman even mentioned 
the incident in his memoirs, 
not published until 1979. At 
the time, he noted in his 
diary, "It looks like World 
War III is here, I hope not — 
but we must meet whatever 
comes — and we will." Tru- 
man, however, attributed 
the radar returns and sub- 
sequent High Alert to an 
atmospheric disturbance. 

Friedman found yet a 
third account of the incident 
in The Wise Men by histori- 
ans Walter Isaacson and 
Evan Thomas (Simon & 

Schuster, 1986). An assess- 
ment of the role played by 
cold war warriors like then- 
Secretary of State Dean 
Acheson and others, the 
book noted that on the 
same day — again, Decem- 
ber 6, 1950 — Acheson was 
informed that. "a national 
emergency was about to 
be declared" because 
"there is flying over Alaska 
at the present moment a 
formation of Russian planes 
heading southeast." The 
British ambassador to the 
United States, Clement 
Attlee, was visiting at the 
time, and Acheson was 
instructed to notify him to 
"take whatever measures 
are proper for his safety." In 
the Isaacson and Thomas 
version, the threat evapo- 
rated when the incoming 
UFOs were reportedly iden- 
tified as flocks of geese. 

Despite the discrepan- 
cies — unidentified flying 
objects over Maine in one 
case, Alaska in the other- 
it is clear that the Air Force 
and government went into 
overdrive on December 6, 
1950, the precise date given 
in the purportedly spurious 
MJ-12 papers for a flaming 
UFO crash in the vicinity of 
El Indio and Guerrero "after 
following a long trajectory 
through the atmosphere." 
As it turns out, whether 
tracked through Alaska or 
Maine, the El Indio crash 
does represent a long tra- 
jectory, indeed. Moreover 
the top-secret documents 
suggest an anonymous MJ- 
12 hoaxer may have hit 

upon this particular day in 
history not by sheer seren- 
dipity, but rather by inside 
access to previously classi- 
fied government reports. 

But why had MJ-12 
placed the crash near El 
indio in. the first place? 
What, if anything, did the 
author of the MJ-12 papers 
know or suspect that we 
did not? As we pondered the 
papers, both real and bogus, 
we realized our options had 
narrowed considerably. To 
learn more, we would have 
to travel to El Indio and 
Guerrero in person. ' 

First On-Srte Investigation 
(March 1990): El Indio over- 
looks the Rio Grande sepa- 
rating Texas from Mexico, 
and lies some 160 miles 
southwest of San Antonio. 
The itinerary for our first visit, 
conducted in March 1990, 
was not overly ambitious. 
Mainly, Tom Deuley and I 
intended to scope out the 
lay of the land, interview a 
few longtime residents who 
may have had knowledge 
of nearly half-century- 
old events, and establish 
contacts for a more thorough 
follow-up investigation later 
on. If we mastered the intri- 
cacies of crossing interna- 
tional borders and actually 
contacting possible eyewit- 
nesses in Mexico, so much 
the better. 

We were both disap- 
pointed and encouraged by 
our initial foray into crashed- 
saucer terrain, Through con- 
tacts in San Antonio, we 
acquired the names of Jack 

and Quixie Keisling, promi- 
nent local farmers who had 
lived in El Indio since 1939, 
a year after its establishment. 
Although they welcomed us 
into their home with typical 
Southern hospitality, they 
couldn't remember any sig- 
nificant event in the late 
1949-early 1950 time frame 
that might have been asso- 
ciated with anything remotely 
resembling a flying saucer 
or crash. 

"There was still a pilot 
training base in Eagle Pass 
after the end of the war," 
Jack volunteered, "and I 
could tell you some stories 
about that. The pilots used 
to love to buzz our pick-ups 
on the highway." 

We also talked to the El 
Indio postmaster, Estelle 
Courtney, who had lived 
there since 1947, but she, 
too, was unable to shed any 
light on an alleged UFO, 
plane, or meteorite crash. 
Unfortunately, the widow of 
the town's original founder 
had died two weeks before 
we arrived. 

We spent the night in 
Eagle Pass, 18 miles upriv- 
er, and crossed over into 
Mexico at Piedras Negras 
the next morning. Like El 
Indio, Guerrero (population 
2,000), some 35 miles back 
down the river and south of 
its sister city, had seen bet- 
ter days. Knowing my high 
school Spanish would con- 
fuse, rather than clarify, any 
interviews we might be able 
to conduct, we sought a 
translator. We were fortunate 
enough to secure the ser- 

vices of Elia Maldonado, who 
had just moved back to 
Guerrero from Green River, 
"Wyoming, and would prove 
invaluable on our first visit 
as well as those to come. 
Maldonado was able to put 
us in touch with former 
mayor Enrique Ceverra, who 
in turn directed us to Ros- 
endo Flores, a retired school- 
teacher (now deceased) 
and, according to Ceverra, 
the town's acknowledged 
historian. ,! tf anyone knows 
anything about such an 
incident, it will be him," 
Ceverra assured us. 

Straight of spine if slow 
in step. Sefior Flores invited 
us into his home two blocks 
off Guerrero's zocalo or main 
square, a welcome respite 
from 'the already beating 
sun. Underneath a full head 
of gray hair, sparkling dark 
eyes peered at us through 
thick glasses. Seated in a- 
simple wooden chair in his 
living room, Flores answered 
our questions promptly and 
to the point. Not only did he 
remember such an incident, 
he had actually witnessed 
it. Shortly after siesta, he 
had been working on his 
family's land north of town, 
toward the river and El 
Indio, when "a ball of fire fell 
from the sky," crashing on 
the adjoining ranch and 
igniting a grass fire. A day 
or two later, a military con- 
tingent arrived from Piedras 
Negras, blocked off the area, 
and "hauled something away 
by truck." We asked him if 
American soldiers, norte- 
americanos, might have been 

involved, but Flores said he 
couldn't be certain. What 
about the object or objects 
hauled away: Could it have 
been as mundane as air- 
plane wreckage? "We never 
knew," Flores answered. 
"No one told us anything." 
When we asked how he 
could be sure of the date, 
Flores simply said that "it 
was common knowledge, 
everyone knew about it," The 
old gentleman even gave us 
the name of the landowners 
and the location where the 
"fireball" had impacted — El 
Rancho del Griegos (the 
Ranch of the Greeks). Be- 
fore leaving, we asked if any- 
one had ever visited him 
previously about this inci- 
dent. His reply was adamant 
and economical. "No, 
never, You are the first." 

Buoyed by Flores' ac- 
count, we sought out the 
people named but none 
was home. We spent the 
remainder of the day dri- 
ving backroads bordering 
the ranch — Deuley's hand- 
written notes at the time 
refer to them as "stone 
washboards" — in search of 
other potential eyewitness- 
es, only to learn that many 
had long since died or 
moved away. 

Indeed, as we delved 
deeper, we were unable to 
turn up any additional eye- 
witnesses to corroborate 
Flores' account. If a flying 
disc had crashed near 
Guerrero on December 6, 
1950, it certainly hadn't 
insinuated itself into ■the 
local memory in the way 

Flores had suggested. 

Still, we felt the case was 
worth a second visit: We 
had by no means inter- 
viewed everyone who might 
have remembered the inci- 
dent, and we had not yet 
seen the alleged crash site. 
Maldonado and Ceverra 
agreed to assist us further 
by continuing to ask ques- 
tions locally and trying to 
arrange access to the Ranch 
of the Greeks. 

Second Journey Out 
(November 1990): In the 
first week of November 1 990, 
we returned to Mexico, hav- 
ing decided to concentrate 
our investigation in the Guer- 
rero area. Ceverra learned 
that the original ranch had 
since been subdivided and 
sold, but he had contacted 
the new owners, who wish 
to remain anonymous, and 
obtained permission to 
search their property. He 
had also contacted two 
individuals who, while they 
had no knowledge of any 
fireball or other crash in the 
area, did know of a "mys- 
tery hole" on the ranch that 
had appeared sometime in 
the late 1940s or early 
1950s as portions of the 
land were first cleared of 
mesquite and scrub brush 
for cultivation. At one point 
the hole had been large 
enough to trap a tractor, 
which had to be winched 
out. We chose to return in 
November, after the field 
had been harvested, facili- 
tating our search. 

In the meantime, Ceverra 

also contacted two of the 
four children whose parents 
had owned the land in 
December 1950. Both were 
of little help, alas, since 
they'd been younger than 
10 at the time. 

After we arrived in Guer- 
rero, Ceverra arranged a 
guide, a young man with his 
leg in a cast who worked 
the ranch and would be 
able to lead us to the hole in 
the field. As with everyone 
else we talked to on this 
occasion, he had no idea 
how the hole had appeared, 
only that it had been there 
as long as he could remem- 
ber. Its only direct connec- 
tion to the alleged crash, 
then, as best we could 
determine, was that it lay in 
the same immediate vicinity 
where Flores had told us 
the fireball had come down 
more than 40 years before. 

An afternoon spent 
searching the field proved 
hot, fruitless work. Unable 
to walk because of his in- 
jury, our guide could only 
give us general directions. 
And while the last crop had 
been cleared, the soft, loamy 
soil had quickly sprung up 
in weeds and grasses. 
Coupled with the flatness of 
the terrain, this meant that 
one part of the large field 
looked pretty much like 
another. As the day wore 
on, however, word leaked 
out that we were looking for 
a "UFO hole," and we soon 
drew a crowd of curious 
locals, all of whom were 
perfectly willing to help out. 
At one stage, we had some 

15 people in the field, sep- 
arated by outstretched 
arms, walking up and down 
the weed-grown rows, all 
for naught except a video 
of the event taken by our 
photographer, Steve Lewis. 

It's no wonder that both 
Deuley and I were feeling a 
little foolish. In fact, with 
sweat pooling in my arm- 
pits, I couldn't help but hum 
the words of an old Grateful 
Dead song: "What a long, 
strange trip it's been!" We 
had started out with a sin- 
gle reference to a crashed 
flying saucer in what in ail 
likelihood was a bogus 
"government" document, 
we had located but a single 
eyewitness to an event of 
ultimately unknown nature, 
and yet here we were, stir- 
ring up dust in a field on the 
south bank of the Rio 
Grande, looking for a mys- 
tery hole of equally unknown 
origin, and with no incontro- 
vertible evidence that the 
two events were connected 
by anything other than 

We thanked Maldonado 
and Ceverra for their gra- 
cious assistance, but ad- 
vised we probably wouldn't 
return unless there were 
any new dramatic develop- 
ments on either side of the 
border. Back in San Antonio, 
we continued to accumu- 
late data in hopes some of 
it might prove relevant. The 
MJ-12 documents aside, 
we continued to hear rumor 
of some UFO crash along 
the Texas-Mexico border 
during our targeted time 





frame. Unfortunately, these 
waters were muddied by 
known hoaxes, including 
the so-called "Tomato Man" 
case involving photographs 
of an alleged fried "alien" 
inside a burned-out "space- 
ship" said to have crashed 
near Rio Sabinas, Mexico, 
on July 7, 1948, some 130 
miles south of Guerrero. 
The photos were later dem- 
onstrated to be of a human 
accident victim, the head 
having swollen and bubbled 
from the intense heat so as 
to resemble a giant, mutant 
tomato. Another unsub- 
stantiated story in circula- 
tion had a UFO crashing in 
1950, but '30 miles north- 
west of Del Rio on the Rio 
Grande, a good 100 miles 
north of Guerrero. We were 
still intrigued by the pros- 
pect, however remote, that 
all such stories had some 
common root, perhaps indic- 
ative of a real event, mun- 
dane or otherwise. 

Another Long Strange Trip 
(September 1994): Last 
year, at the behest of Project 
Open Book, we undertook 
a third trip to Guerrero with 
the intention of laying the 
case to rest one way or the 
other: as a legitimate UFO 
incident, an example of 
runaway folklore, or some 
other as-yet-unidentified 
third category. This time we 
were accompanied by two 
other UFOIogists who had 
recently taken an interest in 
the case: Hal Landrum, an 
Eagle Pass attorney, and 
John Yates of Fort Worth, a 

salesman for The Psycho- 
logical Corporation. Lan- 
dmen had earlier visited 
Guerrero on his own, and 
as for Yates, he brought his 
metal detector. We in- 
formed Maldonado of our 
impending arrival. She, in 
turn, told Ceverra, who by 
now had located a former 
ranch foreman, Jose 
Garcia, who said' he could 
take us straight to the 
mystery hole. 

It took awhile, but 
Garcia ultimately delivered 
a shallow depression in 
the same field we had 
searched in November 
1990. Hairline cracks in 
the soil around the small 
circular depression indi- 
cated an original diameter 
of some 20 feet. Yet a 
search with the metal 
detector revealed nothing, 
not even the usual beer- 
bottle caps and soft drink 
pull-tabs one normally en- 
counters in such situations. 
While we hadn't expected 
a perfectly preserved crater 
with still-smoking rim and 
flying saucer parts strewn 
about, we had hoped to 
be able to tie the hole to a 
particular place in time. 
Like others we had inter- 
viewed, Garcia could add 
nothing in this regard. 

Our own assessment 
of the situation was that 
we were looking, at a nat- 
ural sink-hole phenome- 
non, probably attributable 
to the porous .limestone 
underlying the Rio Grande- 
deposited silt on which we 
stood. As we left, in fact. 

we encountered several 
active wash-outs along- 
side the diri road encir- 
cling the field, one of which 
could have swallowed a 
compact car easily. 

Moreover, after inter- 
viewing more than 40 
additional people on both 
sides of the border, we 
were unable to directly 
connect the hole in the 
field with the fireball de- 
scribed by Flores, Nor were 
we able to identify any 
additional witnesses to the 
fall of the fireball itself. 

Tom Deuley may have 
put it best when he said, "I 
think we've triggered 
■some sort of investigator 
effect. We ride into town 
and start asking questions 
about unusual events, and 
"the people do their best to 
help out. We ask about 
UFOs and crash sites, and 
without necessarily mak- 
ing up anything, they show 
us the best they have. But 
every community, proba- 
bly has something 'strange' 
in its history. It doesn't 
necessarily mean that a 
UFO crashed nearby." 

Ultimately, another 
avenue of investigation 
bore fruit. While research- 
ing the history of the area 
in general, we were direct- 
ed to two retired historians 
now living in Fort Clark 
Springs, Texas. Neither had 
encountered UFO stories 
in their years spent up 
and down the Rio Grande, 
but one of them, Ben 
Pingenot, _ did remember 
that a plane crash had 

taken place in the area. 
The source he' gave Lan- 
drum was Wings Over the 
Mexican Border: Pioneer 
Military Aviation in the Big 
Bend, 'by Kenneth Baxter 
Ragsdale, University of 
Texas Press, 1984. 

On January 16, 1944, 
according to Ragsdale, a 
Civil Air Patrol Stinson 
spotter plane had crashed 
seven miles from Guer- 
rero, killing Lieutenants 
Harry Hewitt and Bayard 
Henderson. Aside from a 
brief mention in the Laredo 
Times, the incident was 
promptly hushed up for 
reasons that can only now 
be guessed. The interna- 
tional nature of the acci- 
dent was probably one 
factor. Another, stronger 
reason for a cover-up is 
the suggestion that the 
Stinsoh was the victim of 
friendly fire — "a' gunnery 
school accident" — from 
what Ragsdale was able 
to learn. And, indeed, a 
restricted gunnery range 
zone is still marked on 
aeronautical maps of the 
area, stretching south- 
eastward along the 
American side of the bor- 
der from El Indio. 

Some sort of joint 
Mexican-American military 
cooperation would almost 
assuredly have been in- 
volved in the recovery of 
the bodies and any surviv- 
ing wreckage, arguably 
triggering the inevitable 
bureaucratic tendency to- 
ward secrecy. Hewitt's 
widow was unable to ob- 

tain a cause of death from 
the authorities and was 
only granted survivor's 
benefits after the Oregon 
legislature introduced a bill 
■to that effect in Congress. 
As for the ultimate 
cause of the crash, Rags- 
dale concluded, "the facts 
will probably never be 
known. The military keeps 
its secrets well." 

Conclusions: Sadly, we 
may never' know beyond 
reasonable doubt whether 
or not an extraterrestrial 
object slammed to earth 
near Guerrero in De- 
cember 1950. We do know, 
though, that an indis- 
putably real terrestrial ob- 
ject impacted within seven 
miles of the very same 
Mexican town in January 
1944. Could this have been 
the event, witnessed by a 
much-younger Rosendo 
Flores, before his memory 
of specific dates became 
blurred by the passage of 
time? If so, it's conceiv- 
able, depending on who 
was talked to and how the 
questions were phrased, 
that the crash of the Civil 
Air Patrol plane and its 
military retrieval could 
. have given rise to all sorts 
of UFO rumors along the 
Rio Grande. In the end it's 
impossible to prove a neg- 
ative—that a UFO didn't 
crash near Guerrero, Mex- 
ico, in December 1950. might just as well 
search for the proverbial 
needle in the haystack- 
er a hole in the ground. DQ 

Tfeg Avtm% 

Mow do you 
handle your own © ^rt CUMINGS 

private demons "? 




First - 
T admit they 

I -f-frcz 




Third - 
I nzver use a pencil 
an eraser / 


Levi Yanomami squatted 
beneath the grassy fringe of 
the moloca (great thatched 
lodge), where an assembly 
of the world's tribal leaders 
sat patiently. The setting was 
the Kari-Oca Indian village 
an hour outside Rio de Janei- 
ro, at the first-ever World 
Conference of Indigenous 
Peoples, where native peo- 
ples hoped to encourage 
world leaders to save the 
natural world from environ- 
mental disaster. 

Levi was about to per- 
form a little voodoo and 
answer tribal prayers, if only 
the chieftains would listen — 
and heed their own call for 
heip in the face of cultural 
extinction. Clad only in red 
running shorts (for deco- 
rum's sake), flip-flops, and 
an arm band of shocking 
pink parrot feathers, Levi cut 
a discordant figure. But the,.j 

best was yet to come — 
verging on the miraculous. 

Levi entered the hut and 
began to sing in guttural 
chants, stretching his stocky 
frame to appear gaunt as he 
paced up and down in 
stilted egret-like steps while 
beating his chest. His chants 
changed to choking fits and 
bodily contortions. Abruptly 
he left the circle to consult 
his companion, Davi Kopen- 
awa Yanomami, a sooth- 
sayer who would interpret 
Levi's spiritual visions, tell 
him not to be afraid, and to 
continue the ritual. For more 
than half an hour, Levi 
waiied, stomped, and 
writhed, occasionally 
returning to Davi for com- 
fort and advice. 

Levi's physical incan- 
tations reached near- 
hysteria, then subsided 
suddenly. As he wandered 


off mumbling, the entire hut and its occu- 
pants rose slowly as if on a cushion of air 
and hovered two feet off the ground — for 
this observer, anyway. 

No kidding. Oh yeah, you say, what 
was I on? Air, it seemed. Eerie, uncanny, 
and downright spooky. This had to be 
some trick of the mind, but I could have 
sworn . . . Stumbling as I tried to step two 
feet down onto the ground only con- 
founded my disbelief. 

Tribal leaders emerged, exchanging 
knowing looks while Western observers 
appeared dazed and confused, still in a 
trance. Some remained in denial, unable 
to accept their own metaphysical 
encounter. But many others wanted to 
believe, and everyone's story was 
different. "It was as if I turned into an 
exotic bird and flew off into the forest," 
remarked one colleague, while others 
spoke of leaving their bodies, as in astral 
travel. The general consensus was that 
this was definitely a "happening." 

But what exactly had happened, and 
just what was the message to the rest of 
the world? In essence, the tribal leaders' 
message was simply that only spiritual 
reverence for the earth would save it — 
and to fail would be fatal. As Kari-Oca 
organizer Marcus Terena remarked, "We 
can speak for the earth because we have 
treated it well." 

Sever-al thousand miles away north of 
the equator, an American university pro- 
fessor sat and also contemplated the col- 
lective fate of indigenous peoples 
threatened with cultural extinction. Luigi 
Cavalli-Sforza, a professor of genetics at 
Stanford University, is well aware that native 
peoples will be the first domino to fall in 
efforts to exploit the world's last remaining 
natural resources. "I am one of a group of 
scientists," he explains, "who have elected, 
on the initial suggestion of a smaller group 
of scientists, including myself, to collect a 
sample of the world population for a 
coordinated genetic study with modern 
means of analysis." Cavalli-Sforza is also 
chair of the international executive com- 
mittee of the Human Genome Diversity 
project, which plans to study genetic 
samples from around the world including 
samples from indigenous peoples. 

But scientific research is not enough. 

Professor Davie May bi. 7- Lewis, founder 
and president of Cultural Survival which 
fights for indigenous rights worldwide, 
expresses his concern that some scien- 
tists may overlook the need for more 
strident measures in regards to protecting 
indigenous peoples than the cataloging of 
their DNA. "If you're fearful of their dying 
out, you would have some kind of 
rcsoons oility to do something for them as 
well. Just doing science and saying this is 
what I do, and what happens to them is 
none of my business, is quite unaccept- 
able," he says. 

Professor Cavalli-Sforza defends the 
value of his research, while acknowl- 
edging the obvious problem that genetic 
research cannot resolve what is essen- 
tially an economic problem, "I don't be- 
lieve that a particular indigenous people 
could be damaged by our studies. There 
are examples where some people have 
been studied genetically, and it has been 
very good for them." But he says, "There 
are many other ethnic groups, indigenous 
or not, that need economic support or at 
least protection from abuse." 

The struggle for cultural survival begs 
many questions: Who are indigenous peo- 
ples, what are their problems, who are the 
players in their survival or demise, and what 
are the viable alternatives <o ;heir extinction? 
The answers may come from many 
places, including political, 
'economic, and scientific quar- 
;h heretofore have been 
thought to be inimical to indigenous 
interests, in politics, changing attitudes in 
the United Nations, and positive signs 
from the Clinton administration have raised 
hopes for new support on indigenous 
issues. Science and technology, tradition- 
ally feared by indigenous groups because 
it identified and exploited their resources 
at their expense, have found new ways to 
preserve and harness rainforests' re- 
sources which may be the key to the for- 
ests' and their people's future survival, 
And indigenous peoples themselves have 
seized -the initiative and begun to fight 

From Hull tribesrner, i'on;v::x/s cage) in Africa 
to Asmat tribes ir, Srazr. :ncl;go'Kx>s poop'Os 
arc fighting to save their c\j!U:rai identity, while 
Ac:en!i;>!=; hope .'<; pre:^:ve gereiiC evidence 
that will help uncover ihs history of migration. 


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1. Arctic: Inuit (Eskimo) in Alaska, 
Canada. Greenland, and the former 
USSR; Aleut in Alaska 

2. Europe: Saami in Norway, 
Sweden, Finland, and the former 

3. Pacific Coast: Haida, Tlingit, 
Kwakjutl, Bella Coola, Tslmshian, 

4. Central Canada: Cree, Meti, 
Chipewyan, Blackfoot, Dene 

5. Eastern Canada: Innu, Cree, 
including James Bay Cree 

6. Canada/United States border; 
Micmac: the Six Nation Confederacy, 
or Haudenosaunee, comprising 
Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, 
Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora 

7. Northwestern United States: Nez 

8. Southwestern United States: 
Navajo, Uti, Dine, Pueblo, including 
Hopi, Keres, Zuni 

9. Plains States: Crow, Cheyenne, 
Arapaho, Pawnee, Comanche, 
Oglala Sioux, Shoshone 

10. Mexico: Mayan descendants — 
Lacandon, Yucatec; Aztec descend- 
ants — Huichol, Tarahumara, Nahua, 
Zapotec; also refugees 

1 1. Guatemala, Belize: Maya, 

including Choi, Chuj, Kekchi, 

Quiche; Nicaragua: Miskito, Sumu, 
Rama; El Salvador, Honduras: 
Lenca, Pipile 

12. Panama: Kuna, Guaymi 

13. Highland Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, 
Colombian Highlands: Quechu£, 

14. Argentina, Chile: Mapuche 

15. Amazon Basin — Brazil; Tukano, 
Xavante, Yanomami, Parakana, 
Kreen-Akrore, Nambikwara, Kayapo, 
Makuxi, Waimiri-Atroari; Amazon 
Basin— Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, 
Colombia, Venezuela; Amarakaeri, 
Amuesha, Aguaruna, Matsigenka, 
Yagua, Shipibo, Tukano, Panare, 
Sanema, Secoya, Shuar, Quichua, 
Guajiro, Yanesha, Waorani, Ufaina; 
Paraguay: Ache, Ayoreo, Guarani, 
Toba-Maskoy; Guyana, French 
Guiana, Surinam; Arawak, Lakono, 
Kaiirija. Wayana, Akawaio 

16. Sahara, Sahel; Tuareg, Fulani 

17. Southern Sudan: Dinka, Nuer, 

18. Angola, Botswana, Namibia: San 

19. Kenya, Tanzania: Maasai 

20. Ethiopia: Oromo, Somali, 
Tigrayan, Eritrean -. - 

21. Zaire, Cameroon, Central African 
Republic, Congo: Mbuti, Efe, Lese 

22. India: Naga, Santal, Gond, 
Kamsi'-g. Lor.i. jandami 

23. Afghanistan, Pakistan: Pathan 

24. Sri Lanka: Vedda 

25. Bangladesh: Chittagong Hill 
Tract Peoples, including Chakma, 
Marma, Tripura 

26. Myanmar (Burma): Karen, 
Kachin, Shan, Chin 

27. Thailand: Karen, Hmong, Lisu 

28. Malaysia: Penan, Kayan, Iban 

29. Philippines: Kalinga, Ifugao, 
Hanunoo, Bontoc, BangsaMoro 

30. Indonesia — Kalimantan: Dayak; 
Lembata: Kedang; West Papua (Irian 
Jaya): West Papuan, including 
Asmat, Dani 

31. Papua New Guinea: Mae-Enga, 
Dani, Tsembaga 

32. China: Tibetan, Uighur 

33. Mongolia: Mongolian 

34. Japan: Ainu 

35. The former USSR: Yuit, Kazakh, 
Saami, Chukchi, Nemet 


36. Australia: Aborigines 

37. New Zealand: Maoris 

Pacific Islands: Kanak, Hawaiian, 
Tahitian, Chamorro 

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return the be 1 - -' - ■ ' * 

let the phone 

ring for 
a minute. My 

Cam be rwell Road, left 
up Dog Kennel Hill 
and into Easl Dulwich. 

"Abigail. My dad— 
"Is everything oka' 

"How's Nicholas?" I Re 

asked him, sure by 

ig. "Ho 
;h by "My lather is well," 

id. We were listening to me. I began 

„.....j a twenty-minute again: "I picked up 
animation tor Chan- Nick's medicine. Shall I 

..._it morning. I'd thought medicine directfrom 
at tirst the tape was specialists in Harley 

enough that I left the 
car in first gear in c~~ 
the hand ' 

id while Robert 
y. working in hisst" 

"Too long? Is it too in New Cross I r 

long?" collecting the pre- 

"What do you mean, scri| 

Had I offended him? 
Well, what if I had? What 
1 had he 

and tried peering 
I thought perhaps 


Perhaps his father 
; frightei 
door. Tt 

ould frighten me 

ny more than he already 

looking after his father w„„,... 

' d him, but I in Robert's 

had never heard him as and h 
bad as this. I c 

crossed Ihe windo 
ng untidily from 
tree to tree like scraps of 



polio, whooping cough, 
. , and yellow fever had been 
conquered; tuberculosis 
belonged' to- the quaint 
landscape of nineteenth- 
century. novels; :anepi- 
I demic on the scale of the 
. Black Plague seemed the 
. stuff of legend-. Then along 
came the Human Immuno- 
deficiency-Virus (HIV). 
■ Chairman of the biol- 
ogy department of Amherst 
College, Ewald is the au- 
thor of '.Evolution of infec- 
tious- Disease, which details 
how HIV became so deadly 
and why infectious dis- 
eases' still loom large on 
our- horizon: Now 40, the 
Smithsonian's first George 
B. Burch -Fellow of Theo- 
retical Medicine- and Affili- 
ated Science, compelling!-,.' 
explains how Darwinian 
. ideas of fitness and natu^ 
ral.selectioh apply to para- 
sites. Like bircii? lizards. 
and manatees, pathogens 
causing disease are- sub- 
' ject to evolution, the- differ- 
ence being, that theirs is 
rapid, measured in weeks 
■and months, instead of eons; 

If you're a disease or- ■ 
ganism— a point of view 
Ewald likes to adopt— 
your gdai is to survive and 
produce more offspring. 
than- competing. organ- 
Isms. One strafogv is io 
multiply as fast as you can . 
inside the' host, but— 
■■' here's the catch— if you 
make too rriahy copies of 
yourself you risk killing, or 

at- least immobilizing, your 
host before you can be 
spread. Changes irvcir- 
. cumstances, including 
human be.navior, can shift 
a' pathogen from mildness 
to virulence., or vice- versa. 
The influenza pandemic 
■of 1-018- might never have 
occurred, claims Ewald, 
without the trenches of 
World War I. HIV, he theo- 
rizes, began centuries ago 
as a mild affliction in an 
;sola;ed population. In. the 
■drought, and urbanization 
in East Africa created a 
climate where prostitution 
flourished; and the virus 
■was able to travel rapidly 
from host io host, where- 
upon it evolved to cause 
the lethal syndrome we 
know today as AIDS. In 
Contrast, most of West 
Africa was spared such 
social upheavals and, not 
co incidentally, the viral 
type HiV-2 found in West 
Africa is much milder than 
HIV-1. Our best hope of 
ending the AIDS epidemic 
is not a magic bullet, ac- 
cording to Ewald, but a 
proper understanding ot 
evolution. We already 
know behavioral factors 
such as condoms, sterile 
needles, and safe sex 
could curtail the spread of 
infection. Now Ewald tells 
us they could actually 
change the virus itself — 
into something we could 
live with. 



equipment through a redwood forest. 
But after a few minutes I realized he would 
likely go without food or sleep — let alone 
the right clothes— for days, to monitor a 
good experiment. 

When he grew up in the suburbs of 
Chicago, his bug collection overran the 
house. And he followed his bliss into adult- 
hood, with a biology major from the Univer- 
sity of California at Irvine to a Ph.D. in 
zoology from the University of Washington. 
When he is not teaching or thumbing 
through five-pound epidemiology bulletins, 
he spends his time fixing up the eighteenth- 
century farmhouse he shares with his wife 
and two children. 

But if Ewald appears to live a charmed 
life, he also lives on intimate terms with the 
sheer magnitude of AIDS' geometric pro- 
gression — not to mention other premoni- 
tions of other plagues in the making. It can't 
be easy to be a Cassandra, to foresee all 
the suffering that lies ahead. Since my intro- 
duction to the secret life of pathogens, 1 
know I've come- to see the world as a more 
dangerous place. — Judith Hooper 

Omni: What is a parasite? 
Ewald: It depends on whom you talk to, but 
I define it as an organism living in or on an- 
other organism and causing harm to that or- 
ganism. What is harm? Probably the least 
ambiguous way of defining it is: a negative 
effect on the fitness of the host organism, 
Omni: Is a virus a true parasite? 
Ewald: Yeah, sure. Some people require 
that parasites be made up of cells, but for 
nearly a century many biologists believed 
all life had to be formed of cells; they 
thought they'd found the fundamental unit 
of life. Then they found viruses that cause 
disease and are much smaller than cells 
and lack cellular organization — just genetic 
material and a protein coat. But instead of 
saying, "Wait a minute, we were wrong 
about all living organisms being made up of 
cells," they said, "Oh, viruses are not living 
organisms." They didn't want to throw away 
the model. Okay, don't call viruses organ- 
isms — call them something else— but the 
central issue is that they reproduce, using 
the same machinery other life forms use, 
Omni: Aren't parasites an odd preoccupa- 
tion for an evolutionary biologist? 
Ewald: They're certainly something few evo- 
76 OMNI 


Evolution of Infectious 


We'd eradicated smallpox. 

We' knew how to 

control diphtheria,- measles, 

whopping cough.. 

We figured we had. the 

tools — antibiotics, . 

vaccines, ecological 

approaches such 

as mosquito ■■control,, But 

all these set evoT 
lution- working against you. 





Quite' possibly the HIV 

virus went 

from' humans to chimps. ]f 

so, we'd better . 
keep track of it inchimps, 

because they 
change sexual partners 

frequently* and 
if it evolves to increased 

virulence, it 
could wipe out much of the 
chimpanzee population. 

lutionary biologists were studying. Since the 
discovery of germs about 100 years ago, 
most people writing about the evolution of 
infectious diseases were health scientists 
who didn't understand evolution. They 
couched their arguments in terms of bene- 
fits to the species rather than differences in 
the passing on ot different genes. And they 
concluded that diseases always evolve to a 
mild state, because any disease ccs~-=~ 
that harms its hosts harms its long-term 
chances of avoiding extinction. 
Omni: Whe 's the basic misunderstand- 
ing? It's noi ie species as a whole but the 
individual thi counts in natural selection? 
Ewald: Rigr:. Natural selection is the result 
of competitive advantages individuals have 
over other individuals within the species. If 
an individual reproduces better than an- 
other, in the future there'll be more copies 
of the instructions for those characteristics 
that made the individual a better competitor. 
Omni: And this is as true of hummingbirds 
or yaks as of viruses? 

Ewald: For any living organism. That's why 
evolutionary biologists' eyes light up when 
they hear these ideas, because they're 
based on fundamental principles. If you 
produce six offspring in a generation, your 
instructions are going to be represented in 
the next generation more than an individual 
,that produces four. The benefits of exten- 
sive reproduction for a disease organism in- 
side a host are obvious. 

The question is, when do you start pay- 
ing a price? You pay a price when the or- 
ganism starts making the host immobile, 
because mobility is often important for 
transmission. Say I've got : a cold, and the 
cold organisms reproduce so extensively I 
feel too ill to do anything. I'm forced to stay 
home, which severely limits the spread of 
the organism. If that were the only factor in- 
volved, the disease organisms would gen- 
erally evolve toward a more benign state. 
But that's not always the case. One kind of 
transmission that immobilizes the host per- 
haps without incurring any costs is that by 
insects such as mosquitoes. 
Omni: The insect just bites a sick person 
and flies off to' infect somebody else? 
Ewald: Sure. In fact, a person ill with 
malaria, say, will be less likely to swat 
- mosquitoes. So disease organisms trans- 
mitted from an immobilized infected individ- 

"Desperate 32 Year Old 

Discovers Amazing Method 

For Creating Love, Luck, 

Money & Confidence" 

By Sean P. Kearney- Special l-tatiire Writer 

Denver. CO.- Entrepreneur Bob 
Scheinfeld had ii all. lost most of 
it. then gol ii hack bigger and belter. In 
ilie nroocss. tic discovered an amazing 
new method for gelling anyibmg he 
really warns uidi a fraction of the sflon 
ami ii lol mine enjoyment, lie says he can 
show others to do ihe same. 

A: .lie i_. Sohemfeld had it all. Or so he 
ilu'ughl. Hfa?i rich. had a bis income. I wo ears. 
■ o homes, and all ihe electronic toys. B.i: he 

isn't happy. Something inside seemed to be 

ting away ai him and he didn't fcrsov. "'bat 
l :■■ i .uddenl) be losi s ; i" 1 !" everything. 

"Everything I touched — work or personal - ■ 
got screwed up,'' he told me. His relationship 
with his girlfriend ended in a lawsuit. He was 
hemorrhaging money. He couldn't understand 
why ii was happening. He was angry and 

Dewratc. tie qui! hi; job 10 look :'or imsw-.'i"-. 
He read hundred'. '.>\ boo--, eoosdlee psychi;^. 
channels and astrologers. He tried hypiioslr.. 
meaiiailon. i.olii'.i: and light machines. "You 
name it. I tried it at lsusi once." he said tint 

things siiii uereo'i working. The rage 
and cvii:'usie:i «ere sdll there, lie still 
didn't know why. and he was alnios: out 
of money. 

Then Scheinfeld had his break- 

ihiough. He discovered an am.iztng nev. 

method that showed him what was 

causing the craziness and how to turn around. 

Five years later, he has all the money and 
materia, ".hmg; ogain. hi.; with a joy. a -else, of 
ease, a balance, and tlie uualily telaiionsliiis he 
neve: had before Mid I ii? time. : al! ■■ i n; '.'" 
a vabk- and lasiing foundation. 

"The beauty of if," he said, ''is die mediod is so 

simple, anyone can use it to get anything tdey 

really '.vain, almost immediately, no matter 

vha"."> going on around them." 

Scheinfeld ha. been givini; auay a free report 

. \.- liul ■ ' i I if liSi ■ ■' ere i To 

get a copy, call I -S00"?o-!-oyo9. M hours, for a 
■ecoiied message. Or wriie 10: The Tr'.i.nsition 
tnsi/.uie. 907y < Jill Drive. Conifer. CO. m~\\ 
Ask for Special Report OM997 

ual to a susceptible one should evolve 
to high levels of harmfulness. And 
arthropod-borne diseases, such as 
malaria and yellow fever, do tend to be 
highly virulent. 

Omni: How do evolutionary principles 
apply to such diarrheal diseases as 
cholera and dysentery? 
Ewald: Does the infected individual 
need to "be mobile to transmit the dis- 
ease? In. places with unpurified water 
supplies, mobility becomes unneces- 
sary. Somebody's going to wash the 
soiled clothes and bed linens, and the 
contaminated water will act like a horde 
of mosquitoes moving pathogens from 
an infected individual to ihe rest of the 
population. I studied whether different 
disease organisms showed a statisti- 
cally significant association between 
water-borne transmission and mortality. 
And there was. 

When you purify a water system, the 
virulent strains drop out. leaving the 
mild strains. It works like clockwork. 
The United States started purifying its 
water around 1900. When we finished 
at the end of the Fifties, the transition to 
the mild strains of the dysentery organ- 
isms was complete. The strains we had 
at the turn of the century are the same 
kind of bacterial dysen:ery organisms 
that caused the death of thousands in 

78 OMNI 

Central America in the Seventies, in- 
cluding some North American tourists. 
Omni: To prolong an infection over 
years, a pathogen must avoid being 
destroyed by the host immune system. 
How does HIV do this? 
Ewald: With HIV— or any venereally 
transmitted pathogen — the pathogen 
that reproduces quickly and continu- 
ously will have difficulty getting into 
new hosts if people change sexual 
partners infrequently. If they change 
partners every five years, say, then ei- 
ther the immune system will likely 
knock out the virus, or the infected per- 
son will die after a short time. Either 
way, the virus won't survive long 
enough to be transmitted. So the re- 
quirements for transmission will favor 
viruses able to be infectious for a long 
time. One of the best ways to do that is 
to go into a latent phase. Retroviruses 
like HIV are good at this because they 
infect a cell and copy their RNA into 
□ NA. Their DNA then inserts into our 
DNA, so they just sit there without 
doing much for a long time. Of course, 
the virus doesn't sit there thinking, 
What strategy should t use? 
Omni: How does natural selection work 
on HIV? 

Ewald: HIV mutates very rapidly, so 
. many different variants of the virus can 

poten ; Si,y coexist ever within a single 
person. This variation is the raw mater- 
ial on which the culling process of nat- 
ural selection can act. Rates of 
evolution depend on two factors: time 
and the intensity of selective pressure. 
How many individuals of one variant 
are dying out, or not being passed on, 
relative to another variant? Because 
disease organisms have a very short 
g&rtarafion time and intense culling, 
this leads to rapid rates of evolutionary 
change. By the time a person has 
AIDS, the virus is more severe than it 
was soon after infection and is repro- 
ducing quicker. You could get evolution 
within a five- to ten-year period in a sin- 
gle person. 

Omni: Why does a patient become re- 
sistant to AZT after a time? 
Ewald: AZT inhibits replication rate — for 
a time. It interferes with the enzyme, re- 
verse transcriptase, so that it can't 
copy the RNA code into DNA code. 
But if even one amino acid in the en- 
zyme changes, it may reduce its bind- 
ing to AZT but can siill synthesize DNA 
from RNA. Giving people AZT disfavors 
HIV variants blocked by AZT, so it 
leaves variants that aren't blocked. 
These forms will predominate, and 
after two years almost all variants can 
reproduce themselves well in the pres- 
ence of AZT, 

Omni: At that point patients are some- 
times treated with DDi— but the virus 
does the same thing with DDI. Might a 
combination of drugs wipe out all the 
HIV variants? 

Ewald: That's what people have been 
hoping for, but the virus seems to 
evolve resistance to the combinations 
we can generate. There may be 5, 10, 
or 15 ways the virus can change its 
conformation. We know of five muta- 
tions right now ha: its shape to 
allow it to continue to form DNA in the 
presence of AZT. Many more we don't 
know about, as well as different combi- 
nations of those mutations. 
Omni: Several years ago the U.S. pol- 
icy was to initiate AZT treatment when 
patients' T-cell counts fell below 500 
but that seems to be changing. Didn't 
you argue against premature AZT treat- 
ment for years'? 

Ewald: In Europe, they were using a 
more sensible criterion: T-cell counts 
below 500 and rapidly falling. Many 
people with counts below 500 are ai 
'east rive vebirs away from expe- encirg 
the first symptoms of AIDS. So they'll 
probably be getting an AZT-resistani 
form of virus by the time they really 
need that drug. The optimum time to 
begin AZT depends on whether the pa- 
tient wants a longer symptom-free pe- 
riod or if he wants better control when 




ing, Then, grinning madly, she places it 
on her tongue and closes her lips 
around it, leaving half hanging out so 
she can suck it in like a piece of 
spaghetti. Her chewing is exaggerated 
and she shows the squealing audience 
the mashed-up worm on her tongue 
before she washes it down with a bit of 
liquid refreshment. 

The Bug-Eater is a staple of the old- 
time sideshow entertainment, and most 
modern audiences find this sort of act 
highly disturbing, especially so because 
a woman is doing it. Later in tonight's 
performance, Lady Julianna (real 
name: Julianne Manchur) will discon- 
cert everyone further by eating glass 
as well and then will top off her part of 
the show by lying on the Bed of Nails. 

Except for the tent of hoochy- 
koochy dancers and the odd tattooed 
woman here and there, the carnival 
sideshow was dominated by 
men. But in the process of 
sideshow being reinvented as 
the theater of cruelty for the 
Twenty-first century, it isn't just 
a man's world anymore. When 
she lies on the Bed of Nails in 
her backless dress, the audi- 
ence is simply in awe, espe- 
cially when the ringmaster 
stands on her. Afterward, when 
she gets up again, she dis- 
plays her back for the audi- 
ence so they can see that there 
is no trickery, no illusion. A wo- 
man who eats worms and glass, a wo- 
man with marks on her back from a bed 
of nails — does this disturb you? The 
Carnival Diablo performers would only 
smile and say, good, it's supposed to. 

Carnival Diablo's Eric E. Everlan is an 
accomplished escape artist as well as 
a s deshQW performer. This tour is the first 
outing for an escape he developed, an 
arrangement in which his wrists and 
neck are chained to a wooden board. 
He calls it the stocks, though onstage, 
the effect suggests crucifixion as well. 

This is one of the audience-partici- 
pation portions of the show, in which 
the ringmaster prevails upon someone 
sitting close to the stage to come up 
and lock the chains around Eric's neck 
and wrists, someone who can later tell 
everybody else that they were real chains 
and real locks. Audience participation 
is another sideshow tradition. Today, 
we might describe this as Interactivity 
the old-fashioned way, and it is defi- 
nitely not the safe and sanitary interac- 
tivity of the high-tech era. There is a 
certain riskiness— any stranger plucked 

80 OMNI 

at random from an audience is an un- 
known quantity and some are less man- 
ageable than others. Tonight, the man 
selected for the task turns out to have 
had more to drink than anyone real- 
ized. Despite several stern warnings 
from McClelland, the man tried to fas- 
ten the neck chains too tightly. Hours 
later, after closing time, someone 
claimed that the man was currently out 
on bail with murder charges pending. 

Eric touches the red marks on his 
throat reflectively; that wasn't the most 
dangerous thing he did tonight. He 
could have lost a finger when the ani- 
mal leg-hold trap closed on his hand, 
and he risked real injury to his spinal 
column when the ringmaster threw darts 
at his back— they lined up perfectly, 
one atop another, along his backbone. 

All in a night's work — torture feats 
are also mainstays of the traditional 
sideshow. Being chained around the 
neck by a possible killer, however, 
does throw him for a moment in a way 
that being fried in the electric chair by 







the ringmaster does not. It may seem 
odd that a man who lights a torch off 
his tongue from the electricity coursing 
through his body every night would be 
so disturbed by such an encounter, 
and it makes for a very freaky story — 
pun intended. Tonight, these perform- 
ers who bill themselves as freaks came 
face to face with someone far more 
outre than they are. 

But then, sideshow outre is a differ- 
ent brand of grotesque altogether, 
more like a mirror of the society it lives 
simultaneously in the midst of and 
apart from. "Sideshow is part of the 
now, it's always there," McClelland told 
me. "People today," he continues, 
"have more than enough problems of 
their own. They don't want to see any 
whimsical fancy-assed little flower 
show. They need something that's going 
to wake them up." 

While Carnival Diaolo is authentical- 
ly old-style sideshow, McClelland loves 
current technology and all the possibili- 
ties it presents for building, the better 
. sideshow emenainment. He plans to 

use animatronics so that tomorrow's 
audiences can meet John Merrick, the 
Elephant Man, and JoJo, the Dog- 
Faced Boy, and the most famous 
Siamese twins of all time, Chang and 
Eng. "These are the kinds of things that 
give sideshow a historic value but 
also give it a really nice bend to the 
future. If I could, I'd have a holographic 
image of Barnum, even if it was just on 
a small pedestal on the stage, to intro- 
duce the show." 

Even virtual reality— he'd love 
putting an audience into VR helmets 
just for the sake of giving each person 
an extra jolt. Perhaps he should be 
wired for his fire-eating act, with the 
audience wearing helmets during that 
portion of the show. "So they see the 
torches coming toward their faces and 
they see the fire leaving their heads," 
he says. "I think that would be an inter- 
esting thing, because the primal thing 
that all animals have is the fear of fire." 
Primal creatures may well describe 
the sideshow audience of -the future. 
"When you're watching the 
sideshow, we're in control, 
and your emotions are not 
in control anymore — you're 
not going to know when 
you're going to feel aver- 
sion, or fear, or anything 
else. And you could turn 
your head, but you won't." 

true enough — one 
would expect a lot of peo- 
ple in the audience to turn 
their heads when McClel- 
land goes into his impaling 
act, which is both excruci- 
ating and sadistically beautiful to 
watch. More than anything, it is thor- 
ough, performed slowly, so that every- 
one in the room can see the skin on 
McClelland's arm tenting on the point 
of the needle before it goes through the 
flesh. But while there are gasps and 
hollers, some revolting and some 
almost lascivious, no one turns away 
from the sight. 

Eventually McCellanc plans to take 
the sideshow out of the clubs and put it 
back inside a tent, where it got its start 
and where McClelland feels it really 
belongs. So someday in the not-too- 
tiistant fi.,rure entnusiasts will go out to 
some fairgrounds and find, amid a 
number of brightly-painted banners 
picturing things like The Bed of Nails 
and The Bug-Eater, a blood-red tent 
with a sign over the entrance proclaim- 
ing Carnival Diablo and underneath. 
Freaks. Freaks, Freaks. A man in the 
ringmaster's outfit with a sinister smile 
on .his too-pale face will be waiting for 
them, chanting a seductive invitation: 
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back through legs chamois and pro- 
tests which have attracted international 
attention and support. 

The world's approximately 500 mil- 
lion indigenous people, sometimes 
called "'first peoples," are found 
throughout the world, from Australian 
Aborigines and African tribesmen to 
Native American and Amazon Indians. 
Conversely, and perversely, they are 
also described as the "Fourth World," 
firmly lodged at the bottom of the 
global socio-economic pecking order. 

Summing up their plight, veteran 
campaigner for indigenous peoples' 
rights, Jason Clay, remarked: "What 
were talking about here is a quiver of 
arrows between them and cultural ex- 
tinction — they have nothing else with 
which to deal with the problem." Simi- 
larly, Julian Burger, a U.N. coordinator 
responsible for indigenous peoples, 
explains that "indigenous cultures are 
threatened by forms of contemporary 
development when they are removed 
from their lands. However," he points out, 
"they are not victims. They are organiz- 
ing in order to defend their interests." 

Despite this bleak assessment, there 

82 OMNI 

are signs of sigrfcan change. In the 
political arena, ihe United Nations, here- 
tofore intractable on the issue of sover- 
eign rights for indigenous peoples, 
designated 1993 as the U.N. Year of 
the World's Indigenous People. It has 
been a critical window of opportunity Jor 
the cause, providing a world platform 
for debate, raising money for commu- 
nity projects, and drawing up a univer- 
sal Declaration of Indigenous Rights. 
Rigoberta Menchu, the Guatemalan 
Quich6 Indian and 1993 Nobel Peace 
Prize winner for her crusade against the 
brutal repression of her people, was 
named goodwill ambassador for the 
U.N. indigenous year, and has suc- 
cessfully launched a Decade of Indige- 
nous People, which began in 1994, to 
extend and expand the program. 

Considerable hope has also been 
generated by President Clinton's 
pledge to address the needs of impov- 
erished Native American Indians, with 
speculation that he will support the in- 
digenous cause internationally. 

lndigenoi..s peoples "hemselvas have 
now also actively joined the fight to de- 
fend their rights and resources through 
protests and the courts, aided by 
media campaigns by private organiza- 
tions like Cultural Survival and the Body 
. Shop. Both of these organizations also 

help them economically by creating 
markets for sustainable products they 
harvest from their wild homelands. 

Meanwhile, back in the lab, the 
tribal gene bank will allow scientists to 
study the origins of vanishing tribes 
long after they are gone. It is part of a 
much larger international project by the 
London-based Human Genome Organ- 
ization (HUGO) to map all the human 
genes. When all the information is in, 
the tribal gene bank will be used to 
help draw up mankind's entire family 
tree, revealing how humanity colonizec 
the planet over the past 100,000 years. 

The project has already identified as 
many as 600 groups of interest. This 
number will probably be reduced to 
about 100 distinct or pure ethnic groups 
including the Marsh Arabs in southern 
Iraq, believed to be descended from 
the ancient Sumerians and currently 
threatened by Saddam Hussein's plan 
to eliminate his Shi'ite political foes; 
Stone Age Amazonian Yanomamo Indi- 
ans and highland Papua New Gunsans 
both threatened by invasion of their 
lands; and African pygmies and bush- 
men and the Ainu peoples of Japan, all 
threatened by assimilation. 

In his genetic study of tribes to plot 
the migration of man across the planet 
over millennia. Cavalli-Sforza has al- 
ready had considerable success as a 
pioneer of "gene geography" since he 
first began gene mapping 40 years 
ago. His earlier research supports ar- 
chcec.ogical evidence :ha T . mankind first 
emerged from Africa 100,000 years ago 
and demonstrates that intensive farm- 
ing practices which began in the Fertile 
Crescent led to a population and cul- 
tural explosion that triggered migration 
across Europe. The establishment of 
communities and cities effectively froze 
genetic drift, making it possible to track 
movement through genetic s;milarbe= 
For example, the timing of the diffusion 
of farming showed that the spread was 
slow and regular, taking some 4,000 
years to cover the approximately 4,000 
kilometers from the Fertile Crescent to 
the remotest area north of Britain — a 
rate of 1 kilometer a year. 

Perhaps the most compelling and 
widely cited argument for safeguarding 
indigenous environments {and hence 
their human inhabitants) is the environ- 
ments' unequalled abundance and di- 
versity of medicinal plants. The case has 
again been made by various researchers 
who. say that many indigenous lands, 
esnoc ally rainforests, may hold the key 
to treating pernicious ailments like a:DS. 
cancer, and heart disease. Genetic sci- 
entists argue that preserving precious 
indigenous knowledge to unlock the 
secrets of potential plant species is an 

cssonLisil elemanl in the equalion. 

Although 1.4 million plant species 
have been cataloged, there may be as 
many as 100 million different specie;:, of 
which up to 80 percent are found in 
rainforests. One estimate further claims 
that about 80 percent of the world's 
population rely on plant-derived medi- 
cines for health products. 

Recent discoveries of cancer-fighting 
exr/acis f-'om pi an Is as diverse as broc- 
coli and the yew tree have sparked a 
scramble to find other miracle cures. 
As a result, chemical prospecting, bio- 
diversity, and ethnobotany are among 
the new mantras in pharmaceutical 
boardrooms in the race to capitalize on 
biotech products. In the United States 
alone, 25 percent of all prescription drugs 
are plant-derived, and the biotech in- 
dustry, currently worth $2 billion a year, 
is expected to soar to $50 billion by the 
year 2000. Businesses are beginning 
to realize that preserving the rainforest 
is an investment in that future. 

Scientists have recently discovered 
that rainforests are actually more prof- 
itable left standing for their medicinal 
uses than cut down for lumber, farm- 
ing, ranching, or new settlements. For 
instance, in a recent study, Dr. Michael 
Balick, director of the Institute of Eco- 
nomic Botany at the New York Botani- 
cal Garden, studied small plots of 
native forest which yielded herbal 
remedies worth $1,346 per acre, 
based on sustainable yields. In con- 
trast, clearing rainforests for agriculture 
is worth only $137 per acre in Brazil 
and $1 1 7 per acre in Guatemala. 

According to Dr. Balick, "It seems 
clear now that the decision whether to 
cut a forest or preserve it revolves 
around the question of how much 
money a farmer can make, how effec- 
. tively he or she can feed the family. 
One of our jobs is to find economically 
viable alternatives to deforestation." 

Scientists have also demonstrated 
the flaw in the argument that old growth 
forests can simply be replanted. Stud- 
ies clearly show that understory flower- 
ing plants of replanted secondary 
forests are only one-third as abundant 
and only one-half as diverse as in origi- 
nal old-growth forests, and may take as 
long as 1 ,000 years to fully recover. 

Through his work for the National 
Cancer Institute, Dr. Balick is involved in 
a $1 .2 million, five-year partnership with 
colleagues from many countries, in- 
cluding Belize, working directly with 
l-adi:ional healers to evaluate, promote, 
and preserve natural medicines. If any 
successful medicines are developed, 
royalties will be paid to the indigenous 
communities. A similar effort to pre- 
serve and prospect for medicinal 

plants in the 'crests of Costa Rica has 
been sponsored by Merck & Company, 
the world's largest drug maker, which 
has invested $1 million in the project 
and also promised royalties for any 
successful drugs developed. 

Dr. Balick also points out that the 
value oi plants is intrinsically tied to in- 
digenous peoples' knowledge of which 
plants are useful and how to prepare 
them. But he warned that much of that 
precious knowledge is being lost forever 
as forest-dwellers increasingly come 
into contact with the outside world. 

"I work with the Maya, for example, 
in Central America," Balick- said, "who 
were thought to have crossed the 
Being Slrai- 25.000 years ago. By my 
calculations, that's given them at least 
200 generations of trial and error ex- 
perimentation to become familiar with 
their environment. And most ot this is 
being lost in this generation. 

"The great tragedy," he continues, 
"is that we are on the cusp of identify- 
ing hundreds if not thousands of useful 
plants for medicine, food, and fiber, 
and the forest is being converted at un- 
precedented rates. It's a false eco- 
nomic analysis that leads to the 
conclusion that land is more valuable 
cut than forest left standing. It's terribly 
sad to see 300-year old r.reos being cut 
down, and then the fires that follow. 
You see devastation of both plant and 
animal li ; e, and you know that devasta- 
tion to humans is not far behind." 

The level of suffering for native peo- 
ples was all too apparent at the Kari- 
Oca indigenous conference in Brazil. 
Between colorful spectacles — of Xingu 
Indians daubed in bright body paint 
and blowing bamboo pipes, Karaa In- 
dians donning exquisite feather head- 
dresses for photo sessions, and plain- 
tive song rituals by Japanese Ainu and 
Norwegian Sammi peoples — native 
spokesmen sat grouped in circles and 
testified about the systematic destruc- 
lion of tneir peope anc their environment. 

Mimmie Degawan spoke of the 
"Total War Policy" by the Philippine 
government to eliminate resistance to 
hydroelectric and logging projects on 
ancestral lands. "If the government 
takes away our land, we will starve and 
cease to exist as a people," she said. 
"So we have to resist — to resist is to 
exist. They not only walk through the 
land and kill people, but also drop 
bombs on entire communities." 

Sinjbout Jackman recounted how the 
new civilian government in Bangladesh 
has pursued a policy of genocide 
against the Juma hill people. In one re- 
cent massacre, soldiers herded. 1,200 
villagers into their homes and burned 
them alive. Murder, torture, and rape 


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remain daily terrors for the Juma. Jack- 
man said, "My people have been com- 
pelled to leave their own villages and 
forced to live in cluster villages like in 
Vietnam and Peru. They are effectively 
enslaved, working for the military camps 
and the forest service. The government 
doesnl want us, they want our land." 

Charles Uwiragiye of the African 
Batwa pygmy tribe in Rwanda, the 
world's fastest growing country, related 
how population explosion had trig- 
gered an invasion of his tribal lands. 
"We are the first people, the in doe nous 
people, but two other tribes came in 
and took everything," he said. "We 
have problems of being removed from 
our lands, and other people replacing 
us. My people were thrown aw/ay, 
like you throw away rubbish." 

The desperation was summed up 
by Kanhok Kayapo of the northern 
Brazilian Kayapo.tribe. "We need help 
to stop the white man from cutting 
down our forest and killing our people. 
The white man says Indians don't work, 
don't plant, and sends his machines to 
plant for himself. But the Indian does 
work, with the plow, and plants many 
things. He asks why the Indian wants 
to live in the forest, but he doesn't want 
to live in the forest. He just wants to 
take it away from us." His brother, Tu- 
topombo Kayapo added, "Who is 
going to help us? Will any government 
help us? 1 don't think so, 1 have risked 
before, and nothing happened, so I'm 
asking again. You say you don't want 
the forest to be burned away. So send 
us money to help my people, to buy 
medicine so they don't die. We will use 
it to keep the woods safe." , 

Threaded through these countless 
stories of invasion, slaughter, and dis- 
placement is the stark realization that 
the laws of nations were never de- 
signed to protect their rights. Worse 
still, many governments do not even 
-ecogmzo ;:ic existence of these tribes 
as a legitimate group of peoples. 

Closer to home, in the United States, 
there is considerable concern about 
the fate of Native American Indians. 
The Oglala Sioux Indians in South 
Dakota, descendants of those who suf- 
fered the horrific defeat at Wounded 
Knee, are among the poorest citizens 
in America, According to the govern- 
ment's own Census Bureau Stat wiics. 
63.8 percent live below the poverty 
line, compared with the national aver- 
age of 15,1 percent; and death rates 
from suicide, alcoholism, infant mortal- 
ity, diabetes, and homicide are some of 
the highest in the country. Among Na- 
tive Americans' many concerns, are 
disputes over sovereign rights, land 
rights, gambling casinos on reserva- 

tions, and eho-fs lo oirice reservations 
to accept toxic and nuclear waste. 

Robert Leavitt, the former educator 
and public policy director at Cultural 
Survival, a Boston-based organization 
supporting indigenous rights world- 
wide, is nonetheless optimistic- about 
chances to come. "Clinton made some 
effort during his election campaign to 
reach out to Native American Indians," 
Leavitt noted, "He has since followed 
through in terms of further consultation 
with Native American leaders and in 
terms of making several appointments, 
Al Gore is at least knowledgeable and 
understanding of native affairs, and 
when they organized the Oregon For- 
est Summit, they asked Native Ameri- 
cans to participate. Hillary Clinton has 
talked about the deplorable state of 
health care on reservations. Ada Deer, 
the incoming head of the Bureau of In- 
dian Affairs, is very well-respected and 
is a Native American Indian, which is 
not usually the case. Carol Browner, the 
head of the Environmental Protection 
Agency, is concerned about the gov- 
ernment and companies targeting 
reservations for toxic and nuclear- 
waste dumping. Bruce Babbitt, Secre- 
tary of the Interior, has worked with 
Native Americans in Arizona. So on the 
Native American Indian side, we're 
more optimistic, and there should be 
some steps forward." 

The current education and public 
policy director at Cultural Survival, 
Marchell Weshaw, is similarly encour- 
aged. "I'm indigenous myself, so I see 
the whole indigenous rights issue on a 
personal level as well as a professional 
one. I do see conditions improving. 
The indigenous peoples— as communi- 
ties and as nations — are coming to- 
gether to make a stand. The positive 
aspect is that they're doing it for them- 
selves. I also think that public aware- 
ness has grown steadily within the last 
five years, riding piggyback on the en- 
vironmental movement." 

On the other hand, Leavitt notes that 
there had been much less support from 
the Clinton administration for global in- 
digenous rights, and a signal lack of fi- 
nancial commitment. "There's a real 
unwillingness to accept the idea of 
group rights on an international level — 
thai groups, peoples, collectively have 
sovereign rights over land, natural re- 
sources, and governance," he says. 

The United States has rejected an 
appeal to fund the U.N. Year of the 
World's Indigenous People. A State De- 
partment official said the United States 
was in substantial arrears to the United 
Nations already and owed millions 
more for peacekeeping activities, 
adding, "That's not to say the year isn't 

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Despite the lack of U.S. support, the 
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peoples. A U.N. voluntary fund has al- 
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tions from other developed nations. 

Six community projects recom- 
mended for approval include two 
democracy and indigenous-rights pro- 
grams in Bolivia and the Philippines; a 
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Indian women in Chile; a reforestation 
project in Guatemala; a community 
bakery in Ecuador; and a community 
center in Belize. The news of the grant 
for the community center in Belize pro- 
voked Garifuna peoples' representa- 
tive, Felix Miranda, to observe, "This is 
good news. The community center will 
allow us to open a museum of artifacts 
together with books and displays about 
our history, and provide a cultural focus 
for the community." 

Similar projects worldwide by pri- 
vate groups have also provided eco- 
nomic alternatives to environmental 
destruction for indigenous peoples. 

Among the oesi-known proponents of 
this philosophy is the London-based 
Body Shop. Through its Fair Trade proj- 
ect, the Body Shop has several co-op 
agreements with native peoples who 
produce sustainable products like nut 
oil in Brazil, Nepalese paper, New Mex- 
ico's organic blue-corn oil, Mexican 
cactus body scrubs, Bangladeshi bas- 
kets, and Siberian birchwood combs. 
Body Shop spokesman Mark dohnston 
said the company seeks to "make con- 
sumerism a moral act. I remember 
going back to Nepal and being flab- 
bergasted at how well the project had 
helped the community put all its kids 
through school and buy smokeless 
ovens, because smoke-related respira- 
tory ailments are a problem in that part 
of Asia. It was the same with the Nanhu 
women in Mexico, who in the absence 
of their men — forced to find work else- 
where — were able to feed, clothe, and 
house their children. It's as basic as 
that, and very rewarding." 

Cultural Survival Enterprises trades 
in sustainable products like Brazil nuts 
for Rainforest Crunch, Zambian organic 
honey and beeswax, Minnesotan wild 
rice, and Amazon rainforest cookies, 
with plans for many new product lines. 
Since its 1989 launch, product sales 
have totaled $2.5 million, and a 5 per- 

cen: or ce premium las y cicod another 
$250,000 which is plowed back into 
pan.icbating communifies. The pro- 
gram has attracted another $600,000 
from foundations, governments, and 
businesses to start new projects. For- 
mer orogram director, dason Clay, said 
"People have to take responsibility for 
their consumption, and ultimately they 
can force corporations to market sus- 
tainable products they want to buy." 

As executive director of Rights and 
Resources, a private Washington, DC, 
agency which defines and defends na- 
tive resources, Clay plans to develop 
an early-warning database system to 
identify and prevent potential disaster;: 
for indigenous peoples before they 
happen. "I think we need to start look- 
ing at root causes," Clay said. "Human- 
itarian assistance after the fact, when 
people are in real jeopardy, is funda- 
mentally wrong. We need to be able to 
see more accurately what forces con- 
tribute to persecution, ethnocide, and 
genocide, so thai when those indica- 
tors appear, we can target attention on 
those areas to actually prevent those 
killings from occurring." 

For those involved in the struggle, 
the strategy for the future is clear: Con- 
solidate the United Nations' lead to de- 
fend indigenous rights at both the 


Review by Andrew Wheeler 

Picture this: on ■ 
November 15th, [M; 
2034, an immense 
bubble (roughly 
equivalent to a black 
hole's event horizon) 
appeared instantly 
around the solar 
system, cutting off the rest of the 
universe. The stars disappear. Mo 
one knows why. 

Thirty-three years later, the 
inevitable disruptions have died 
down, and people are learning to 
live with the Bubble— they have no 
choice. Software that runs on 
human brains (to do repetitious 
tasks, keep you alert, and so on) 
has been perfected, and is used 
widely. But except for a nihilist ter- 
rorist group, the Children of the 
Abyss (all born after Bubble Day and 
devoted to chaos and senseless vio- 
lence), life goes on much as it 
always did. Until private eye Nick 
Stavrianos is hired to find Laura 
Andrews. Laura's severely retarded, 
with a brain that hardly works at all. 
She can't even turn a doorknob, but 
somehow she's escaped from her 
hospital. For the third time. 

I can't tell you what Nick finds 
when he goes after Laura, but I will 
say it makes the "big idea" in Greg 
Bear's Moving Mars look like small 
change. This is a real hard SF book, 
and Egan has taken a cutting edge 
scientific idea— quantum mechan- 
ics — and translated it into fiction. I 
can't explain any more than that— it 
would spoil the surprise, and this 
book is so original I don't want any- 
one to miss the thrill of discovering 
it themselves — but I will say that 
both the Bubble and brain software 
play an integral part in the plot. If 
you have a friend who claims that 
there isn't any really rigorous hard 
SF anymore, shove this book into 
his hands. I guarantee he hasn't 
heard this idea before. 

Quarantine is available in paper- 
back at book stores and exclusively 
in hardcover from The Science 
Fiction Book Club on p. 69. 


grassroots and international levels; har- 
ness science and technology to iden- 
tify, protect, and safely utilize indige- 
nous resources; economically empower 
native peoples to finance legal cam- 
paigns (or their sovereign and resource 
rights; encourage alternative land use 
through consumer demand for sustain- 
able products; and build public sup- 
port for indigenous issues through 
education and media campaigns. 

Many problems remain, from ethnic 
Cleansing in the Balkans which threat- 
ens to discredit indigenous calls for au- 
tonomy, to the Asian block's refusal to 
address serious human-rights abuses 
against native peoples, to the resource 
plunder of Siberia in Russia's desper- 
ate search for toreign investment. 

Despite many hopeful signs, Clay 
conceded, "It's still going to be a thou- 
sand points of fight — not light. For 
those of us who have been doing this 
work for the last 20 years, the work in 
1995 will be just as hard as the work in 
1 994, but the work has to go on," 

"If over the next 10 years, we as a 
world don't do something, it will be too 
late for many cultures," Robert Leavitt 
said. "But we do have a wonderful op- 
portunity to build a much stronger move- 
ment for indigenous peoples. What we 
have to do is institution a-ze :ne gains. 
The real challenge for Cultural Survival— 
and other organizations involved — and 
indigenous peoples themselves, is to 
cement our gains, strengthen indige- 
nous participation in the United Natiors 
and Native American participation in 
the U.S. government, and take advan- 
tage of popular culture and concern, 
so that the movement goes from bejng 
flavor of the month to flavor of the 
decade, and beyond. "DQ 


Page 4, top left: Jesse Pohmar; page 4, top 
right: Tom Zimberoff; page 4, bottom: Mal- 
colm Kirk: page 6: Rosemary Weber; page 
10, bottom: B. V. Teyber; page 12: Tim Alt/ 
Digital Art; page 14: Sandro Miller: page 18, 
top, middle, and bottom: World Game Insti- 
tute; page 20: Gottfried Hemwein; page 24, 
top and bottom: Merlin □. Tuttle: page 26, top: 
Sarachev Atlas; page 23, middle: R. Knecht/ 
Alutiiq Culture Center; page 25, bottom: Ben 
Fitzhugh/Alutiiq Culture Center; page 31: 
Comstook; page 32, top left and bottom tight: 
Comstook; page 33: Eric Dinyer/Graphistock; 
page 34, left and right: Ccmstock; page 36, 
lop, middle, and bottom: Jim Bones; page 45: 
Tsuneo Tsanda; page 46: Hideo Umegaki; 
page 55; Garry D. McMichael/Photo Re- 
searchers; pages 62 and S3: Malcolm Kirk; 
page 54. top and top middle: Malcolm Kirk; 
page 64, bottom middle: Chris Rainier/Aspen; 
page 64, bottom: Lcen Mclmyre; page 66: 
Steven Stankiewicz; page 90, top left: 
Michael La Monica/Graphlstock: page 91: 
Comsiock: page 104: Corel Corpo'ration. 


he finsl'y gets symptoms. 

Data from the large Concorde trial 
[the joint French-English venture 
named after the aircraft] indicate that 
people who are less than a year away 
from the probable onset of symptoms 
get a benefit from it. But starting treat- 
ment two or three years before symp- 
toms offsets any possible benefits by 
negative effects— either of the drug it- 
self or those associated with the virus's 
having developed resistance earlier. So 
when you really want to control that 
virus — later on — you can't. I raised this 
point a few years ago in a manuscript I 
sent to the New England Journal of 
Medicine. They rejected the manuscript 
Omni: How bad might the AIDS epi- 
demic get before it burns itselt out? 
Ewald: It will burn through the popula- 
tion of people who change partners fre- 
quently without protection.- How large 
that population is, will determine how 
disastrous the effect is on the popula- 
tion as a whole. The Black Plague killed 
about a third of the people in Europe 
over a 50-year period, and I think 
something similar will happen with 
AIDS in some regions of Africa. But at 
least we know that by invoking defen- 
sive measures, we should be able to 
drive this organism to a milder state. 
Anything we do to reduce the rate of 
needle-borne and sexual trsnsmissior 
should not only curb new infections, 
but also reduce the harmfulness of the 
virus. If we could reduce the potential 
of transmission to such a low level that 
a person will only transmit the virus 
once every 15 years on average, then 
we'd probably knock out most harmful 
HIV variants within a few decades. 
Omni: How mild could it become? 
Ewald: Other HIV variants give us a 
ballpark figure. West African HIV-2 
viruses are so mild most people in- 
fected will probably die of old age. It 
seems to reproduce very slowly, and 
it's in a population where people don't 
often change partners. Some HIV-1 
strains seem similarly mild. Re- 
searchers have been following a chain 
of infected people in Australia for 
years, and none of them has come 
down with AIDS. 

Omni: What factors promoted the 
spread of AIDS in the United States? 
Ewald: If people change partners often, 
more harmful viruses should overgrow 
the other viruses. Comparing infections 
originating among gay men in the late 
.Seventies to those that occurred in, 
say, 198*1 — after several years of rapid 
transmission — you'd expect later infec- 

iions to be more severe. You can mea- 
sure severity by the time between in-. 
fection and onset of AIDS. That 
appears to be the case. Using stored 
blood samples, we pinpointed the time 
of infection for about 30 gay men who 
were infected before 1980. None came 
down with AIDS within five years. But 
15 percent of the infections occurring 
in 1984 caused AIDS within five years. 
Omni: Does it look like HIV is now de- 
clining in virulence? 

Ewald: Perhaps in some groups. After 
1984, gay men started having fewer 
partners and practicing safer sex, so 
you'd expect the virus to become less 
virulent, Increased virulence happens 
on a short-time scale, because it de- 
pends on a geometric increase in the 
number of infections. But decreased 
virulence takes more time to assess 
because it results from the death of 
people having the more harmful 
viruses. How long will it take the virus 
to evolve to a milder state? Something 
on the order of five to ten years. And 
from 1987 we started seeing an in- 
creased length of time between infec- 
tion and AIDS. Researchers at the 
National Cancer Institute found the 
delay of symptoms up to mid 1988 
could be attributed to AZT, but from 
mid 1988 on there was an additional 
delay, So the next few years will be im- ' 
portant for evaluating that trend. 
Omni: You're pessimistic about an 
AIDS vaccine. Why? 
Ewald: Vaccines work by introducing 
particular parts of a virus into a person 
to trigger an immune response. Viruses 
have proteins called gp12 protruding 
from their surfaces that, like a kind of 
hand, grab onto the parts of molecules 
protruding from a cell. When a vaccine 
introduces these proteins into a per- 
son, his or her immune cells learn to 
recognize and attack them. That works 
well as long as those proteins on the 
virus stay constant. But the high muta- 
tion rate of HIV causes them to 
change. The immune system wipes out 
the particular form of the virus that gen- 
erated the immune response leaving 
you with forms that look different. And 
the immune response can't deal with 
those forms. 

Omni: Couldn't you design an all-pur- 
pose vaccine that would recognize fea- 
tures common to all types of the virus? 
Ewald: That's what researchers have 
tried unsuccessfully to do. The best. 
vaccines still leave many uncontrolled 
variants around, and they are the HIVs 
of the .future. You have to deal with 
many thousands — probably hundreds 
cf thousands — of variants. 
Omni: How did we, for example, de- 
sign a vaccine for smallpox, then? 

Ewald: Smallpox is a stupid virus. 
Being a DNA virus, it doesn't have a 
high mutation rate, and it doesn't much 
change its surface proteins. It's as if all 
the variants wear the same coat, so 
once you use that coat as a target, you 
can get rid of all the adversaries. 
Omni: Is diphtheria stupid, too? 
Ewald: That's a different twist. When it 
runs out of nutrients, the diphtheria or- 
ganism produces a toxin that destroys 
the cells around it and releases their 
nutrients. By injecting a vaccine based 
on the toxin, you induce an immune re- 
sponse that made the toxin impotent. 
Then the toxin-producing bacteria were 
spending 5 percent of their budget 
making these fruitless weapons, while 
the toxinless : orrns werer't wasting 

their valuable resources. This shifts the 
competitive balance to the milder bac- 
teria forms. It's a model for vaccines of 
the future. Instead of trying to make 
vaccines cover as broad a spectrum 
as possible, we should usually narrow 
our focus to those proteins making cer- 
tain strains harmful. 

Omni: Can we solve the problem of an- 
tibiotic resistance this way, too? 
Ewald: An evolutionary approach to an- 
tibiotics would selectively use them to 
treat people with severe strains. In 
some hospitals, when a patient is 
found with a severe infection, everyone 
in the ward is treated prophylactically. 
That practice should knock out milder 
strains that could compete with severe 
ones. People studying hospital-ac- 

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quired iniections now claim harmful or- 
ganisms are evolving resistance more 
rapidly than we're generating success- 
ful new antibiotics. 

At present we have no good way of 
controlling some strains of tuberculo- 
sis. For most other diseases we're get- 
ting close to the last drug that works. 
Trie good news is that when you re- 
duce exposure to these antibiotics, the 
organisms often evolve back to sensi- 
tivity. So antibiotics now ineffective may 
be effective again several years from 
now. But that's no consolation to peo- 
ple who have the antibiotic-resistant or- 
ganism and whose problem is 
surviving the next few weeks. Over the 
next 10, 20, 30 years, antibiotics will al- 
ways be useful on a case by case 
basis, but will not be the magic bullet 
we'd hoped for. 

Omni: So could we see new plagues in 
the future in countries with up-to-date 
health care? 

Ewald: We have them now in hospitals: 
diarrheal diseases, staph and strep in- 
fections. Organisms in hospi- 
tals may have evolved into 
these severe variants be- 
cause they can be spread by 
attendants' hands and don't 
require the patient to be mo- 
bile. By some estimates, hos- 
pital-acquired, infections are 
the tenth leading cause of 
death in the United States. 
Obviously, hospitals don't like 
to talk about this. "Oh yeah, 
Your husband died of an in- 
fection he acquired in the 
hospital. Sorry." They say, in- 
stead, the patient died of "complica- 
tions from surgery." In the United 
States about one out of ten people who 
check into a hospital acquires an infec- 
tion there, and those are just infections 
researchers have managed to trace. 
Omni: Should we worry about things 
like the skin-eating strain of strep we've 
seen on TV and in the tabloids? 
Ewald: Invasive strep and staph infec- 
tions have been around a long time. 
Some strep in hospitals cause bloody, 
oozy skin infections, which if they in- 
vade the bloodstream, can cause 
death. Some strains eat away at the 
skin and muscle and can reproduce in 
body areas where antibiotics can't ef- 
fectively reach. In favoring both virulent 
strains and antibiotic resistance, the 
hospital environment can generate 
both harmful and difficult-to-control 
strains. Fifteen years ago, in Mel- 
bourne, Australia, antibiotic-resistant 
staph jumped from hospital to hospital 
as doctors or nurses moved within and 
between hospitals or as patients were 
moved. Investigators were able to doc- 

88 OMNI 

ument over 100 deaths largely attrib- 
uted to these infections and e si i mated 
that about 1,000 people died alto- 
gether from the resistant staph. 
Omni: Can we avoid being infected at 
the hospital? 

Ewald: Unfortunately, we're at the 
mercy of the hospital. When my daugh- 
ter was born, in a good hospital in 
Washington State, my wife and I were 
appalled that a nurse stuck her finger 
in the baby's mouth to quiet her. We 
tried to explain why we didn't think it 
was a good idea, and she was of- 
fended. When we talked to the pediatri- 
cian, he got indignant and said, "I do it 
all the time myself." 

Omni: What's the most dreaded infec- 
tion you know? 

Ewald: What worry me most are those 
things we have no way of controlling. 
HIV at least gives people time to live 
before they die, and we may be able to 
deal with it evolutionary. What consti- 
tutes the worst disease depends on the 
•<.:ids of ine-'vsnt'ons used to control it. 







Smallpox would've been one of the 
worst 300 years ago, because there 
was nothing to control it. Actually, the 
worst parasites infect insects. I'm just 
glad I'm not an insect, because insect 
diseases make anything we're ex- 
posed to look mild. Some are almost 
100 percent lethal, often within days. 
One that affects honeybees turns them 
into goo. Researchers have followed 
these parasites for 50 years, and the 
organisms show almost no limit to their 
ability to survive outside the host. 

For humans, too, I'd worry about or- 
ganisms that survive for a long time 
outside the body and have a high level 
cf lethality, like TB or smallpox. The My- 
cobacterium avium complex have 
these characteristics. Related to TB 
and affecting AIDS patients and others 
with compromised immune systems, 
they could be just a few mutations 
away from developing the ability to in- 
fect healthy people. We might then 
have something like TB that could be 
with us along time. 
. Omni: What traits make a pathogen a 

severe threat? 

Ewald: The virus responsible for Rift 
Valley Fever, which is transmitted by 
mosquito, that caused some outbreaks 
in Africa, may have increased in viru- 
lence as it began to gain a foothold in 
the human population. Tiger mosqui- 
toes got into the United States a few 
years ago in the water inside recycled 
tires imported from Asia and have 
spread over some southern states. 
They're capable of transmitting several 
very damaging viral pathogens, but the 
pathogens don't seem to have the ca- 
pability of being transmitted from per- 
son to mosquito to person yet. If they 
acquired this capability, they could be 
damaging. We need to worry if an or- 
ganism is transmitted by attendants, 
like those hospital-acquired infections; 
or if it's water-borne, from person to 
water to person; or if it's a virus with a 
high mutation rate that lives in an indi- 
vidual's White blood cells for a long time. 
One that worries me, HTLV [human 
T-cell lymphotropic virus], a cousin of 
HIV belonging to a differ- 
ent retrovirus subfamily, 
causes ieukemias and lym- 
phomas. It may be moving 
down a similar evolutionary 
path as HIV, Pockets of 
HTLV- 1 1 exist in the south- 
eastern United States, 
Caribbean, and Japan. 
HTLV-II is present in Native 
Americans, has been 
around a long time, and 
appears to be fairly mild. 
HTLV-I is distributed in hu- 
mans worldwide and is 
better studied. About one in 30 in- 
fected people may eventually die from 
it. The rest never develop cancer. 

It's transmitted in the same ways as 
HIV. But in some areas, particularly 
Japan, it's transmitted primarily from 
mothers to their babies. It takes about 
60 years for offspring to develop the 
leukemia. If we could drive HIV down 
to that level of mildness, I'd consider 
that a great success. But data suggest 
HTLV may be becoming more like HIV. 
If people start transmitting the virus 
more frequently by having unprotected 
sex with more partners, fast-producing 
viruses should have an advantage. 
Omni: If you had a billion-dollar grant 
and all the time in the world, what 
would you do? 

Ewald: An HIV study where we can go 
to areas where people have been re- 
ducing sexual contact and assay the 
harmfulness of the viruses. We ought to 
see a reduction in harmfulness. If 
there's a time when we need to know 
whether we can use evolution as a tool, 
this is it— with HIV.DO 


I the thefts.— Sherry Baker 

w msm 

t the University 
I of Munich in charge of the 

sanitary engineer, in- I The studies generated 

it decided to test wells with yields of e 

i and funded an I least 100 liters perm: 


drilling sites. All 21 

j The hydrogeologists I tea 

e their drilling sites hit 

with the stanc' 

physical techniques — using c > , 

geoelectrical data, geo- his 

logical maps, and aerial Th 

photographs. They also to c 
losal clas- 

COM~II\.,rC = 

vi /:■; 

black plastic bin-liner. There was move- 
ment again: a figure I only glimpsed 
before it vanished. Seconds later it 
came back, nearer this time, and in the 
light from nearby streetlamps, I recog- 
nized Robert's father. 

"Mr. Roth!" 

His disembodied head ducked and 
bobbed like a balloon in front of the 
dilapidated sash windows. I was about 
to call again when a second balloon 
bobbed up, similar to the first, but 
smoother, broader, better inflated: 

They were staring at something in 
the tree nearest the window, craning 
forward together, eyes wide, heads to 
one side, like mannikins. There was 
nothing there, nothing but frosted 
branches and crows, flapping from one 
tree to another continually. 

I slipped into the garden at the front 
of the house and scooped up 
a handful of stones from the 
ornamental path. I lobbed one 
at the window. It snapped 
against the glass. They 
ducked out of sight. A mo- 
ment passed, then Robert 
poked his head up above the 
sill and peered at me. 

"Robert," I yelled, "you silly 
bugger, let me inl" 

He seemed not to recog- 
nize me. He leaned his head 
to the left, and to the right. I 
think he smiled, but in the 
light I couldn't be sure. He raised a 
hand. He didn't seem to know what to 
do with Lt; he lowered it again. 

I gestured angrily at the door. He 
nodded; and disappeared. The hall 
was dark; I waited for the light to go on. 
Nothing happened. I stamped my feet 
and looked around, feeling foolish. I 
wondered if anyone was watching, 
from the flats opposite, perhaps. There 
was a mild fog. At the top of the road 
the air glowed sodium-orange in the 
light of a dozen powerful lamps, hung 
up on gantries around the newly mod- 
ernized Nunhead Reservoir, A crane 
cast shafts of shadow through the lumi- 
nous air; as the crane turned, the shad- 
ows wheeled like torch-beams on a film 

I turned back to the door. There was 
still no light. I thumbed the bell again, 
and again. I got no reply. I had had 
enough. I got Nick's medicine bottle 
out of my bag and shoved it through 
the letter box. 

I crossed the road again and looked 
up. Robert and Nick were pacing 
92 OMNI 

backward and forward in front of the 
window, appearing and disappearing 
as they crossed and recrossed each 
other, eyes fixed, unblinking, upon the 
trees opposite, the icy branches, the 

I walked back to the car. I wanted to 
call somebody: the police, perhaps, or 
an ambulance. But it wasn't a crime to 
ignore a doorbell, and hardly a sick- 
ness to stare at a tree. There was no 
one else I could turn to, no mutual 
friend; no one who would know any 
more than I what was wrong. 

I told myself I was angry and af- 
fronted, but I was lying. The sight of 
them had disturbed me. I drove home 
slowly, cautiously; I felt slightly unsure 
of everything. 

1 found Marlene perched on the TV. 
She glanced at me, then turned back 
to the tank; the tetras were playing in 
the wash from the oxygenator. Mar- 
lene's eyes glazed over, She went still 
as stone. 






I said, "Don't even think it," swept 
her up in my arms and wrestled her 
into the kitchen. She leapt onto the 
draining board and sat in the sink, tail 

"No," I said. "No baths," 

She peered up into the mouth of the 
mixer tap. A droplet fell on her nose. 
She sneezed it off. I put some food 
down for her and washed up the 
breakfast things. I was through just in 
time to stop her getting into the water. 
She stared up at me from the work sur- 
face, I pulled the plug. She glanced at 
the sink, the receding water, and back 
at me — betrayed. 

"Some cat you are." 

She began grooming; her idea of a 

I went back to the living room and 
fed the fish. "Relax, she only wants 
your water." Kicking off my shoes, I 
curled up in my big cuboid sofa chair. 

Not the chair — my chair, I felt as if 
nothing else in the house — and I -had 
furnished if more or less from scratch— 
■ was really mine. It was entirely my own 

fault; a minimalist phase that had seen 
me bagging up my entire wardrobe for 
Oxfam and replacing it with one de- 
signer grunge dress by Issey Miyake, 
Not content with making a wraith of my- 
self, 1 had gone on to make a mau- 
soleum of the apartment; polished 
floorboards, stained black; white walls; 
green gloss over the woodwork; 
Japanese tables: expensive black 
boxes with famous names hotfoiled on 
the side. Belongings that didn't belong. 
Belongings designed not to belong. 

Marlene hated it. She spent most of 
her time outside now, in the jungle I 
had let grow in the back garden. I only 
saw her at meal times. 

I opened my bag, took out Rooert's 
video and let the box drop from my fin- 
gers onto the floorboards. Marlene 
flung herself oul of the kitchen and 
pounced on it. 1 told her, "Be my guest," 
and slotted the video into the monitor. 

Robert's film was a sort of test 
card — a white surface through which a 
black cube emerged, point first. The 
cube passed through the 
white surface, loomed up 
toward the screen, filled It, 
blacked it out, and disap- 
peared. So much for the 

Abstract animation is a 
wide field, and very intel- 
lectual, very etiolated. It's 
difficult to make a film that 
somebody, somewhere, 
won't appreciate for some 
wild and complex reason 
of their own. Robert's film 
was, for all the wrong rea- 
sons, something of an achievement; 
therefore, I could think of no artist, no 
movement, and, more to the point, no edi- 
tor, who would want what he had made. 
I clambered out of my seat and 
crossed to the desk. Marlene had 
stretched herself across the study chair; 
she was peeking at the TV through the 
gap between the seat'and the backrest. 
"Still here?" 

Marlene's ears twitched. She hun- 
kered down. 

"I'm honored." I dug Robert's file out 
from under a pile of papers. 1 glanced 
through the budget I had agreed with 
Channel 4's animation department. 
They'd allotted us £40,000, less than 
half the usual budget for a film of this 
length, Robert had spent barely 
£10,000. I wracked my brain for a way 
we could lose money quickly; the more 
expensive I could make the film, the 
more willing the channel would be to 
mount a rescue operation on it. Nine- 
thousand-odd pounds wasn't enough; 
they would simply pull the plug. I 
chucked the file onto the desk and 

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went back to rny seal. Marlene jumped 
down after me and weaved round my 
legs. I stumbled about, disentangling 
myself from her, and cuffed her gently 
with my foot. She came straight back at 
me, purring. I fell back in my seat and 
she leapt on my lap. 

"Why thank you," I said, surprised. 

Admittedly, our rapprochement was 
not totai. Rather than face me Marlene 
sat staring fixedly at the screen; the 
cube had emerged halfway from the 
white ground. Each plane was tex- 
tured, glimmering through translucent 
surfaces, invisible at a first glance and 
meaningless at a second. Strange 
scratches and squiggles disrupted the 
surface now and again, I wanted to 
think them deliberate, to believe that 
they were meant, but no amount of 
mental acrobatics couid prevent them 
from looking like what they were: stray 
rtairs, bits of fluff, smudges on the lens. 

Marlene bobbed her head, shud- 
dered, rolled around stupidly. Absently, 
she clawed me through my skirt. I 
threw her off. "Call yourself a critic," I 

She settled on the floor, still purring. 

"Easily duped, eh?" I said, feeling 
about for the remote. "You should write 
for the Modern Review." I hit the stop 

Marlene fell silent, A moment passed. 
She got up, stretched, shot me a chill 
glance, and padded through the 
kitchen into the great outdoors. 

Robert's film had proved problematic 
from the very beginning. Our working 
relationship, which had started so aus- 
piciously, had begun to show signs of 
strain. Perhaps I should have taken more 
care of him, but I was a producer, not 
an analyst, and to my mind his insecu- 
rities made him selfish and perverse. 

I think he had decided early on to 
conceal his worries from me; his sub- 
conscious, however, had other ideas. 
He began to miss appointments, to ar- 
rive late, or at the wrong venue; he be- 
came vague, unsure of what he wanted 
when his opinion was needed; and at 
the next moment obstreperous, bel- 
ligerent, picking holes in the budget 
and the way the channel wanted to 
oversee the project. Thanks to him, 
what had begun as a £100,000 film be- 
came a £40,000 film. Nobody likes 
paying for something they are not al- 
lowed to see, 

Then, of course, there was his father. 

It was a typical evening: I had 
booked a table for seven o'clock and 
Robert called at my office at eight, hav- 
ing already eaten. "We could have a 
coffee, first," he suggested, in tones 
calculated \o deaden vna'ever sparks 

of enthusiasm might still be lurking in 
the room; so I trailed him round to Frith 
Street and elbowed a path into the 
Italia, past Soho hopefuls chaining 
Marlboros as they wound down from 
post-production sessions at the Mill, or 
lighting the evening set at Ronnie 
Scott's across the road. At the end of 
the bar there was a flat-screen TV 
tuned to a jazz concert. Orphy Robin- 
son was playing. 

" — no use," said Robert, 

I glanced at him. "What?" 

"You're not listening." 

"It's Orphy Robinson." 


I shrugged. "What's no use?" 

"My dream diary." 

Last time I'd tried to drag out of him 
what the matter was, he'd told me his 
imagination was drying up, that he felt 
like a hollow shell: a zombie, not a per- 
son. Startled by this abrupt confession, 
I had suggested he keep a dream 
diary. It was patronizing of me, and I 
was surprised he'd tried out the idea. I 
thought he was just being polite. It 
never occurred to me that he might be 
desperate — desperate enough, in- 
deed, to grab at whatever straw was 
thrown his way. 

"What went wrong with it?" I asked. 

The waitress upended a big tin 
shaker and shook cocoa powder on 
my caffe latte. . 

"I've lost any real connection with 
my subconscious." 

"You mean you didn't dream." 

"Oh I dreamed, all right." 

"What about?" 

"Timetables," he said, with bitter 
relish. "Late trains. Traffic jams in the 

I handed him his espresso. "Any- 
thing else?" 

"Forgotten appointments. Badly lit 
offices. Jammed sandwich machines. 
No narratives, no insights. No frights. I 
dig deep inside myself and all I come 
up with is daytime TV." 

I found us two stools next to the mir- 
rored wall and sat him down beside 
me. I said, "I haven't got time for dinner 
now. Will you be in the studio tomor- 
row? About eleven?" 

He shook his head. "I'm picking my 
dad up at the airport. He's flying in from 
San Francisco." 
"He's staying?" 
Robert nodded. 

"Can I meet him?" I asked, in an in- 
stant swapping professional cool for lit- 
tle-girl effusiveness. Like Pavlov's dog, 
I chided myself, salivating to the sound 
of a bell. I couldn't help it. Back in the 
Fifties, Nicholas Roth had been Holly- 
wood's most powerful headhunter. 
"I'm sure you can," Robert sighed, 

slipping himself seamlessly into the 
role of the Great Man's private secre- 
tary. He said, "He's coming to London 
for treatment." 

"He's ill?" 


I couldn't think what to say. Robert 
took my silence as a question. "I'm 
looking after him. There's a clinic in 
Harley Street. They've developed a 

"Robert," I said, "I had no idea — " 

Robert treated me to a bitter smile. 
"I've known for a long time," he said. 
"It's not why my work's going badly, if 
that's what you're thinking. It's not an 

"I never thought you were using 

"That's not what I meant," he said. 

"Is this— is it going to take long?" 

He shrugged. "As long as it takes." 

I asked Robert whether, under the 
circumstances, we should cancel the 
film. He said no. I made up every con- 
ceivable excuse for him; he turned 
them all down. He wanted to go ahead 
with it. 

I was sure Robert would never be 
able to juggle looking after his father 
with the demands of the film, but I tried 
not to listen to myself. Robert was the 
best young director I had; juries at 
Stuttgart and Oberhausen had 
awarded him major prizes. I had in- 
quiries and offers of work from the 
BBC, the BFI, even the English Na- 
tional Opera. The last thing I wanted to 
do was stop him working. 

I let things ride for a while, and 
hoped against hope for the best. 

I got to meet Nicholas Roth about a 
month later, when Robert invited me 
round for dinner. 

When I got there the flat was in 
chaos. The kitchen surfaces were 
blotched and smeared with tomato 
sauce, coffee grounds, God-knows- 
what else; there were crumbs and 
onion skins all over the floor tiles; in the 
dining area the carpet was rolled up 
and piled with library books. The 
floorboards beneath were cracked and 

Robert had taken all the clipframes 
off the walls and fitted a green sheet 
over the sofa; his father, Nicholas, sat 
at the far end, hunched up, bobbing 
his head in time to queer, internal 


Nicholas Roth was not old. In his 
mid sixties, perhaps. Like his son, he 
wore his hair short. His eyes were 
hooded, the lids slightly mongoloid. His 
cheekbones, like Robert's, were pro- 
nounced, but his mouth had lost all its 

firmness. As I watched, a droplet of 
saliva worked through the stubble on 
his chin. 


"Huh!" He turned, and saw me, and 

I forced a smile for him. "Hi," I said, 
"I'm Abigail." 

"Have we any stamps?" 

"This week's subject," Robert mur- 
mured behind me, adjusting the con- 
trols on the oven. 

The old man said, "I'm sending let- 
ters to Pinewood." 

"Oh. Right." 

"Do you send letters to Pinewood?" 


"Buggered if I can see the point, 


"Since we haven't any fucking 

"Dad," said Robert, "this is Abigail." 


"Beside you." 

Nicholas stared at the green sheet, 
rucked beneath him. "Chair's broken." 


"Needs new covers." His voice 

I said, "I'm a producer." 

"Rims," he said, to no one in partic- 


His eyes came alive at last: "I've 
been in films!" 

All through dinner he regaled us 
with tales — some of them obscene, all 
of them incoherent — about his first 
days in Hollywood. 

"So much screwing around." 

"Dad," said Robert, -"at least put 
your bloody spoon down before you 
start waving your hands around." 

"So much tit." 

"You'll put my eye out," Robert mut- 
tered, wresting the spoon from him. 

"Sorry," he added, turning to me. I 
could see he was enjoying himself. 

Afterward, Robert put his father to bed 
and we sat down lo talk. 

I said, "He doesn't recognize you, 
does he?" 

"Not often," Robert admitted. 

I put my cup down on the floor. 
"What happened to the carpet?" 

"He's afraid of it." 

I remembered it was red. So was 
the sofa. "The color frightens him?" 

"There's a place in Heathrow where 
the carpet color switches' from green to 
red. When I met him off the plane he 
stopped dead at the edge of it, 
screaming his head off." 

I adjusted the sheet where it -had 
rucked up underneath me. Something 
behind me rattled. I felt for it, picked up 


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Must be 18 or older. 
Touch-tone phones only. 

a bottle ot pills. I thought at first they 
were aspirins. 

"That bottle," Robert said, "is more 
expensive than your car." 

I read the label. It made no sense. 
"What does it do?" 

"It turns on new parts of the brain." 

"The 99 percent we don't use?" I 
said, skeptically. 

Robert waved his hands dismis- 
sively. "It's not about that. It's about the 
way neurons communicate with each 
other, it's possible for neurons to pass 
messages chemically, without the need 
for synapses. Half the brain's presy- 
naptic receptors are dormant; the trick 
is to turn them on." 

I tossed the bottle in my palm. More 
expensive than a car. If Nicholas Roth 
had this much money, why was he 
staying with Robert in a one-bedroom 
conversion in Peckham? I said, "What's 
the advantage of that?" 

"When the brain needs to reroute a 
signal, to bypass a lesion say, it tries 
the route out chemically first. If presy- 
naptic receptors pick up a chemical 
signal, they tell their neighboring axon 
to use this or that synapse and to pick 
up the rerouted signal. If you promote 
chemical uptake, the brain gets into 
the habit of rerouting its signals more 
often. It can do more with less." 

I said, "It sounds like a treatment for 

"That's how it started," Robert 

"You take quite an interest." 

Robert shrugged. 

I turned to read the titles of the 
books piled on the rolled-up carpet. 
They were all about medicine. I picked 
up the nearest: Hannah's Heirs by 
Daniel Pollen. It was about the genetic 
origins of Alzheimer's disease. I said, "I 
didn't know it was heritable." 

"It isn't always," said Robert. 

The obvious question hung between 
us for a moment, unspoken. My nerve 
failed me; I dropped the Daniel Pollen 
back onto the pile. There were other ti- 
tles, not all oi them to do with medicine. 
How Monkeys See the World; a book 
about sharks; Daniel Dennett's Content 
and Consciousness. 

"Some new ideas?" I suggested. 
"Every animal sees the world in a 
different way." 

It dawned on me suddenly that he 
was afraid. 

"Afterward — will Nicholas . . ." 
He swallowed, stared at me. "We 
don't know," he said, giving nothing 
away. "No one's done this before." 

I'd expected Robert's picture-cut to ap- 
pear rough around the edges; nothing 
could have prepared me for what I 

received. It was no surprise when, a 
week after my abortive visit to Robert's 
flat, I received a letter from Channel 
4's animation department terminating 
all funding. 

I rang Robert and as usual I got no 
reply. About an hour later someone 
from the Wheelhouse rang in to say 
Robert had left some belongings in the 
studio I had hired for him. I sensed that 
something was wrong so I agreed to 
pick them up myself. I headed over im- 
mediately, feeling stupid and obscurely 
ashamed, like the hard-pressed parent 
of a difficult child. 

My contact at the Wheelhouse, an 
advertising consultant called Terry, put 
the bravest (ace she could on matters, 
but from her manner I guessed that 
Robert hadn't made himself welcome. 
In the lift I asked her straight out how 
things had been with him. "He was a 
bit abrasive," she admitted. 
"How do you mean?" 
"Kept the door to the studio locked. 
Wouldn't answer the phone. Ignored 
the security men. Left chicken bones 
on the Harry deck." 

"It's being that cheerful keeps him 
going," I said, hiding my embarrass- 
ment behind gallows humor. 

"Is there a problem of some sort?" 
"Not now," I said, with a malign 
smile: "I give you my word, he won't be 
darkening your doors again." 
"Only I thought he might be ill." 
I shrugged, said nothing. I don't 
take kindly to people who jeopardize 
my hard-won contacts so I wasn't 
going to make excuses for him, 

Terry let me into the studio. Vertical 
blinds of plasticized rice paper 
screened wall-length windows. The 
Harry deck stretched along the far wall; 
its monitors rained cornflakes, tuned to 
the antics of the producers in the stu- 
dio next door. Near the door, on a foot- 
high dais, were two steel-blue sofas. 
Robert's gear had been piled neatly 
upon the nearest. I gathered it up: 
jumpers, pads of cartridge paper, a 
camera, empty videocassette boxes — 
"And his aspirins," Terry said. She 
reached down into the gap between 
the cushions and drew out a brown 

"Might as well chuck them," I said. I 
slid his belongings into my shoulder 
bag and zipped it up. I took a deep 
breath. "Terry," I began, "I'm really 
sorry that Robert—" and then I 

Terry gave me a commiserating 
smile. "Forget it— and the offer holds 
for next time. Anything to escape the 
■ cornflakes . . ." 

I waved her to silence: "Aspirins?" 
She fished them out of the bin. 

I read the label; or rather, I tried. 

"Are they special?" 

I nodded. 

More expensive than my car. 
'They're his dad's," I said. "I'd better 
take them." 

I lumbered back through Soho with 
my bag full of blank drawing paper and 
jumpers and a £6,000 pill bottle ratt- 
ling about in the shallow, next-to-use- 
less pocket of my designer jacket; and 
if an acquaintance had asked what I 
was doing I think [ would have killed 
myself. I had decided young in life not 
to be a mother, and I resented having 
to start now. 

But Robert's hapless behavior had 
awakened my maternal instinct and as 
I climbed the stairs to my office I found 
to my chagrin that I was rehearsing all 
the usual motherly lines: "How did you 
expect to keep warm without your 
jumper?" and "What were you doing 
with Daddy's tablets?" 

I let my bag drop from my shoulder, 
It fell back down the stairs. I plucked 
the bottle from my pocket. I 
shook it. It rattled. I opened it, 
teased out the cotton wool 
plug, shook the pills into my 
palm. Chalky, with a single 
line across, like aspirins. 

/ think . . . all wrong. 

The bottle was half empty. 

not listened. I should have put two and 
two together when I heard about his fa- 
ther's Alzheimer's: but who could have 
imagined that he would treat himself 
with someone else's medicine? Fearing 
the onset of the disease, why had he 
not sought treatment for himself? Why 
had he behaved so surreptitiously? 

Unless — 

1 stepped back from the drinks cabi- 
net and fell over the cat. "For Christ's 
sake," 1 snapped, shaking gin off my 
fingers, "what is it now?" Marlene 
howled. I went back to the kitchen. 
She'd merely picked at her food. "You 
sure you're okay?" I asked, with grudg- 
ing sympathy. I checked her water 
bowl. It was full. I emptied it and refilled 
it. She ignored it, leapt up on the 
kitchen counter and howled again. 

"Oh for God's sake." I put the plug 
in the sink and ran the hot tap. Marlene 
edged forward. "Mind," I said, pushing 
her out of the way. I ran enough cold in 
for the water to be comfortable for her, 
then went back to the living room, fell 

I got home to find Marlene, as 
usual, perching on the TV. 
She howled. I headed for the 
kitchen. She followed me in, 
purring frantically and head- 
butting my ankles. At one 
point she leapt up and dug her claws 
into my leg and I nearly dropped the tin 
on her head. "Please," 1 sighed, "it's 
been a bad day." I put the dish down in 
front of her, went into the living room, 
and poured myself a gin. 

Just like a mother, I had done my 
best to ignore the truth of what Robert 
was doing. "They look just like as- 
pirins," I toid myself. "They should have 
put them in a funny-colored bottle or 
something." But I wasn't taken in. 

I recalled that night in the Bar Italia, 
when Robert told me about his father. 
He'd said; "I've known for a long time." 

Not every case of Alzheimer's is her- 
itable. But was Nicholas Roth's? If it 
was, it would explain why Robert had 
taken on the job of looking after his fa- 
ther—at risk of Alzheimer's himself, it 
was the only way Robert could guaran- 
tee himself a supply of those miracu- 
lous, unaffordable pills. 

I recalled how that night, and on 
countless other nights, he had told me 
how his imagination had died, had 
shriveled up, had vanished — but I had 

102 OMNI 






into my chair and slugged back what 
little gin hadn't spilt over the floor. A few 
seconds later Marlene leapt into my 
lap. Her fur was dry. 

"What's the matter now? No bath 

Marlene looked up at me and 

I sighed, and tickled her behind her 
left ear. "Of all the nights to kiss and 
make up," I chided her, softly. 

She whined back at me. 

"A small boy gets trapped in a faulty 
garbage compactor?" 

She wouldn't stop whining. 

"An old drunk twists his ankle on a 
deserted dance floor?" 

She just wouldn't stop. 

I ignored her, picked up the remote 
and pressed play. The screen went 
white. A black point emerged in the 
left-hand corner. I was going to change 
the cassette but Marlene had started 
to purr. 

"Happy now?" 

She circled twice and lay down. 

Stray hairs, smudges, fleeting lines 

and stains flickered across the screen, 
The spot grew bigger. 

Marlene clawed me absently 
through my skirt. 

I yawned. "Do we have to watch 

She swiveled her ears like radar. 
"Earth calling Marlene." 
She growled ecstatically. 
"You're as bad as they are," I said, 
"staring at their bloody tree." 
I went cold. 

Minutes passed. The video 
snapped off. Marlene's purr trailed into 
silence. When it was clear the show 
was over, she yawned and stretched, 
slipped off my lap and headed for the 

I wondered: What if Nicholas's 
Alzheimer's wasn't heritable? What if 
his son ran no special risk of develop- 
ing the disease? Why, then, would he 
have taken his father's pills? Simple 
curiosity? No, that sort of juvenile 
experimentation went out of fashion in 
the Sixties; besides, it wasn't in 
Robert's character. He must 
have been taking them 
for a reason. Something 
other than Alzheimer's, 
perhaps. Something he 
could not explain to any 
doctor. Something for 
which no legitimate treat- 
ment yet existed. 
All that talk about his 
hollow, worn out self . . . 

I rewound the film and 

played it again. It was no 

good. I couldn't think my way into it, the 

way my cat could. Robert's film had 

bored me, but— 


We don't know. No one's done this 

I went back to the living room and 
dialed treble-nine. 

When the police broke into Robert's flat 
they discovered remains, dismem- 
bered and part-eaten, in a corner of 
the living room. Further investigation 
traced these remains to several 
sources: stray dogs, in the main; a 
pet rabbit; a missing child. In the oppo- 
site corner, Robert and Nicholas Roth 
were curled up asleep, wrapped round 
each other, naked, under a nest of 
shredded bed linen and soiled, crum- 
pled clothes. 

An ambulance took them to King's 
College hospital and later that evening, 
mewling and spitting, they were admit- 
ted to the Maudsley, South London's 
leading psychiatric hospital. 

They are still there.DO 





&& v 


combinipig the ambience and 
rhythm's of such artists as 
.^Tangerine Dream, Suzanne 
Ciani, Cusc6 v and a host of 
other futuristic artists will 





From "only" things to colors to word derivations 

By Scot Morris 

There is just one four-letter 
word that summarizes what 
the following have in com- 
mon. What's the only word? 
President James Buchan- 
an; the two-toed sloth; the 
chow chow dog; the hyoid 
bone; mercury; -40 degrees; 
Kahoolawe; the pyramids; 
Midnight Cowboy; the flags 
of Nepal. Libya, and Ohio; 
and a logophile's attraction 
to Pierre, South Dakota, 

That was one of three 
questions I left unan- 
swered in the January Games 
column, a quiz on things 
in common. It turns out that 
everything on the above 
list is famous for being an 
"only" something, so the 
only word /sonly Buchanan 
was the only bachelor 
president; the two-toed sloth 
is the only land mammal 
other than man that mates 
face-to-face; the chow 
chow is the only dog with a 
black tongue; the hyoid 
bone, which supports the 
tongue, is the only bone 
in the human body not at- 
tached to another bone; 
mercury is the only metal 
that's a liquid at room 
temperature; -40 degrees is 
the only temperature at 
which Fahrenheit and Celsius 
^thermometers read the 
same; Kahoolawe is the only 
uninhabited Hawaiian is- 
land; the pyramids are the 
only one of the Seven Won- 

ders of the Ancient World still 
standing; Midnight Cowboy 
is the only X-rated film to win 
the Academy Award for 
Best Picture; Nepal is the only 
country with a nonrectan- 
gular flag (il's shaped like a 
sideways W), Libya has 
the only single-color flag (it's 
all green), and Ohio is the 
only state with a nonrectan- 
gular flag; and a logophile 
(word-lover) would be inter- 
ested to know that South 
Dakota is the only state that 
shares no letters in com- 
mon with its capital. 

When I raised this ques- 
tion on the Scot Morris's 
Games message board in 
Omni Online on America 
Online, I asked people to con- 
tribute to the list. Here are 
my favorite additions: Titan, 
two, Maine, Frank Robin- 
son, Don Larsen, Rocky Mar- 
ciano, Lake Michigan, 
the elephant (three different 
ways!), Linus Pauling, and, 
according to a popular mis- 
conception, the Great 
Wall of China. I'll reveal what 
makes them unique in an 
upcoming column. 

FOUR-PARTER. The sec- 
ond unanswered question 
from January asked what the 
ten companies and/or 
products in each grouping 
below have in common. 

A. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, 
Dentyne, Marlboro, Baby 
Ruth, Campbell's, Time, Avis, 

What is it? 

STP, Old Spice. 

B. Coors, Kodak, Hertz, 

Cutty Sark, Squirt, National 
Geographic, Shell, Bayer, Mc- 
Donald's, Preparation H. 

C. Kraft parmesan cheese, 
7-Up, Heineken, Double- 
mint, Salem, Tanqueray, MJB, 
Fuji, Quaker State, Amer- 
ican Express. 

D. IBM, Minolta, Ivory, Alka- 
Seirzer, Entenmann's, Max- 
well House, Lowenbrau, USA 
Today, WD-40, Phillips' 

Milk of Magnesia. 

Readers came up with 
many similarities between 
them, but the real link lies in 
the colors of their logos or 
packaging: A is red; B, yel- 
low; C, green; and D, blue. 

third question was to 
find the connection between 
these: sole, shark, sloth, 
vampire, parasite, booby. I 
warned that this was a 
very tough puzzle indeed and 
that you'd "have to know 
all about these animals and 
their names to derive the 
correct answer." 

The hint was derive. The 
words have a similar deri- 

vation. Many animal names 
sometimes apply to hu- 
mans — pig, chicken, rat, and 
so on. But with the ones 
on this list, the original naming 
went the other way: The 
animal was named after the 
human characteristic. For 
example, the first reference 
to "booby," describing a 
stupid person, is circa 1600. 
When a bird was later 
discovered that seemed stu- 
pid, it was called a "booby" 
because the name fit. 

When a fish was discov- 
ered that was as flat as 
the bottom of a shoe, it was 
called a "sole." When biol- 
ogists found a sluggish ar- 
boreal animal in South 
America, they called it a 
"sloth" because It re- 
minded them of that deadly 
sin. The blood-sucking 
vampire bat got its name 
from the vampire of folk- 
lore, and so on. These are 
the only animal names 
I know that possess this 

Incidentally, I said in Jan- 
uary that one very diffi- 
cult quiz question (the one 
that actually contained 
the answers to the rest of 
the quiz) was "derived 
from Sam Loyd's classic Only 
Color Problem." There is 
no such problem. I phrased 
the sentence that way to 
give hints for the three ques- 
tions left unanswered: 
derived, only, and colorDO 

OLD BUSINESS, In June last year, the formula printed 
should have looked like this: 

12 + 144 + 20 + 3^4 + 5x11= 9 z + 

It reads as a limerick: A dozen, a gross, and a score/Plus 
three times the square root of four/Divided by seven/Plus 
five times eleven/Is nine squared and not a bit more.